Calls grow for sanctions against Cambodian officials

Calls grow for sanctions against Cambodian officials

US Senator Ted Cruz has threatened to sanction Cambodia unless the government releases opposition leader Kem Sokha by today. Sokha

Cambodia opposition Kem Sokha

Photo: AP

US Senator Ted Cruz has threatened to sanction Cambodia unless the government releases opposition leader Kem Sokha by today.

Sokha was arrested for treason on September 3; the opposition CNRP insists the charges are politically motivated and designed deny the opposition support ahead of elections next July.

Although slow off the line, the US and EU are now threatening sanctions if Mr Sokha is not released. One option would be to impose blanket sanctions on sectors of the Cambodian economy, although this would hurt the population more than it would Mr Sen. A more likely approach would be to target the travel and assets of senior government officials.

But, worryingly for Western policymakers, a hardline stance is likely to drive Hun Sen further into Beijing’s arms. China is already Cambodia’s top trade partner and most important donor.

At a time when Washington is seeking to build consensus among ASEAN countries  to push back against Beijing’s South China Sea ambitions, America’s lawmakers must tread carefully.

Delve deeper: Testing Hun Sen: Cambodia’ opposition flees into exile

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