Things just keep getting worse and worse for Taiwanese flag manufacturers with Cambodia’s prime minister now calling for a nationwide ban on flying the Republic of China flag.
On Saturday, during a speech in front of the Cambodian-Chinese Association, Prime Minister Hun Sen attempted to show his country’s strong commitment to the “one China” policy by making an unusual demand.
“I request to people here: Please don’t raise the Taiwanese flag whenever you are gathering, even at the hotel during Taiwanese national holidays. It is not allowed,” the Cambodia Daily quoted him as saying. “We should not do anything that affects the respect of China’s sovereignty and independence through shaking hands and stepping on feet. I cannot do it.”
He added that the same thing goes for the Tibetan flag.
The prime minister’s comments seem aimed at ingratiating himself with Beijing and Chinese money, J Michael Cole writes in the Taiwan Sentinel. Recently, China has become more and more concerned about the “one China” principle governing cross-straits relations, particularly following US President Donald Trump’s claim that the policy was up for negotiation.
China has been putting increasing pressure on other countries to distance themselves from Taiwan. In December, the tiny West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe severed ties with Taipei and promptly reestablished relations with Beijing. The next month, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to move its trade mission from the Nigerian capital of Abuja to the commercial hub of Lagos after China pledged a $40 billion investment.
The most high-profile incident came last November when nine Singaporean armored troop carriers were seized by Hong Kong customs while returning from military drills in Taiwan. While China has denied playing a role in the seizure, it did quickly lodge a protest against Singapore for its disregard of the “one-China principle.” When the vehicles were finally returned, Beijing again added that it hopes “the government of Singapore will faithfully adhere to the one-China principle.”
With massive Chinese infrastructure investment rolling in, Cambodia has no interest in getting on Beijing’s bad side. Currently, two Chinese companies are planning to build the world’s tallest towers in Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh. The towers would be 372 meters taller than the city’s tallest building at the moment.
Even as he called for a ban on Taiwanese flags, PM Hun Sen said that he welcomed Taiwanese investment in his country. Previously, the prime minister, who has ruled his country for decades, has blocked attempts by Taipei to open up a trade center in Phnom Penh afraid that doing so would harm “the sovereignty and independence of China.” In the dispute over the sovereignty of the South China Sea, Cambodia has been China’s closest ally in the region.
The flag ban also doesn’t seem to have greatly angered Taipei. On Tuesday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Eleanor Wang said that the ministry had “no comment” on the Cambodian prime minister’s remarks, before adding that:
“As a sovereign, independent country, Taiwan is devoted to safeguarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It is willing to establish friendly and cooperative relations with countries in the region, including Cambodia, for mutual benefit. That policy has not changed.”
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