Does the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative make Cambodia a haven for human traffickers and scammers?

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In recent years, many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Criminals take advantage of this to find their next targets online. Hong Kongers are no different. In recent weeks, Hong Kongers have fallen victim to human trafficking scams in Cambodia.

While Hong Kong police depend on the regime to act, Taiwan has made rapid rescues.

Many argue that the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative has become a fast track for cross-border crimes in Southeast Asia.

Why Cambodia?

An article on Up Media describes that China’s One Belt and Road has turned Cambodia into a haven for criminals. The Belt and Road project has also been a priority for the Hong Kong government to help the CCP connect to the Silk Road region. The report explains that the criminals behind the trafficking scene are the mainland’s businessmen. Many Chinese-funded companies in Cambodia have been involved in corruption or fraud. Their close relationships with Cambodian politicians guide them in the development of the port.

In 2013, CCP leader Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. Since then, the Cambodian government has welcomed Chinese investors with open arms.

A Cambodia-China business forum was held in 2018. The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) said investment in Cambodia nearly doubled from $3.6 billion in 2016 to $6.3 billion million in 2017. He also announced that China was the largest foreign investor in Cambodia.

Figures show that Cambodia relies heavily on money from China to get ahead.

Blessings in disguise or trouble to come?

Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Phnom Penh on August 3. The Cambodian Prime Minister reaffirmed that the friendship between the two countries is concretely rooted. Hun praised the Belt and Road Initiative for bringing “great blessings” to the Cambodian people.

CNN International published an article in early 2022. It talked about how the CCP has invested millions in Cambodia, especially in Sihanoukville. “Sihanoukville, once a seaside haven for backpackers, has turned into a giant construction site…thanks to Chinese developers.

CNN spoke with Astrid Noren-Nilssonan, an expert in Southeast Asian studies at Lund University in Sweden. She said, “About 90% of businesses and properties are owned by Mainland Chinese.

The giant development site has transformed a once-beautiful waterfront into a Chinatown, as the expert described it.

Western travelers have fled, while locals struggle to lose income, businesses and homes.

Base camp of human traffickers

The U.S. Embassy recently released its 2022 Cambodia Human Trafficking Report.

In the report, Cambodia was marked as a country in which the government encourages crimes, scams, trafficking and corruption.

The report stated, “Authorities rarely issue arrest warrants for fugitives unless non-governmental organizations (NGOs) become involved in their search and apprehension.

He detailed the challenges NGOs face when working with local Cambodian police. The U.S. Embassy said in the report, “Endemic corruption at many levels of government continues to severely limit individual officials to hold traffickers accountable.”

The embassy also alleged that Cambodian prosecutors and judges were accepting bribes in return for “dropping charges, acquittals and sentence reductions”.

Delays in prosecutions, bribes and corruption are often what interrupt or hinder rescue missions. As a result, it is impossible to convict someone who is “supposed to have political, criminal or economic ties to government officials”.

The 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report highlighted the seriousness of human trafficking in Cambodia. He also mentioned the hurdles that nonprofits face during rescue attempts. (Photo by US Embassy)

The CCP is the boss of Cambodia

The Development Council of Cambodia (CDC) has approved four investment projects worth nearly $24 million in the Sihanoukville Economic Zone (SSEZ).

In 2019, CDC awarded a $10.5 million investment project to a Chinese handbag factory, Mei An leatherwear (Cambodia) Co Ltd.

Other SSEZ projects were awarded to a plywood factory, Kai Feng Wood Products (Cambodia) Co Ltd for $6.6 million, a glue and ink factory, Amto Chemical Technology Co Ltd. for $1.7 million, and Golden Sum Fashion Apparel Co Ltd was approved. for a US$5 million company.

Of the four Chinese companies investing, at least two of them are registered in mainland China. On Made-in-China.com, a China supplier finder website, Kai Feng Wood Products is listed as a wood manufacturer in Shandong Province, China.

On listcompany.org, Golden Sun is registered as a fashion accessories manufacturer based in Yiwu, Zhejiang, China.

Geographical convenience makes Hong Kongers vulnerable to criminals

According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council website, the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone is a “flagship project” of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is also the only “China-Cambodia National SSEZ recognized by both governments”.

As the SSEZ is close to National Road 4 of Cambodia, it connects the seaport, railway and airport of Sihanoukville. They are all at a distance of about 12 km. This road connects other neighboring countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong.

The governments of Hong Kong and Beijing have developed this desert land over the past 10 years.

Anything zero-rated is a haven for bribery

To make sure the money will flow in, Cambodia has made the mega development completely tax-free. This means 100% exemption from import tax on all construction materials or equipment. Companies entering the SSEZ will be eligible for tax-free benefits for the next six to nine years.

There will also be zero export tax or value added tax.

The Belt and Road will make Sihanoukville the next Shenzhen. This transformation has increased the demand for people who speak multiple languages. Therefore, human trafficking groups kidnap Cantonese, Mandarin and English speakers to increase their ill-gotten gains.

Is the Belt and Road complicit in human trafficking and the organ black market?

The Jamestown Foundation published a feature article in China Brief in March. He exposed the illegal practices of organized criminal groups in Cambodia. It is said that criminals are using the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative as a disguise to expand their illegal operations.

Organized crime groups across Asia engage in online fraud, pyramid schemes and online gambling. These groups are also responsible for human trafficking as slaves or prostitutes. Smuggling Chinese medicinal narcotics, exotic creatures and animals is part of their “business”. But the most common activity is illegal money laundering from China.

Chinese criminal groups are using Malaysia as a base camp to set up stores. In November 2019, Malaysia’s immigration department launched a raid in Cyberjaya, near the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Some 680 Chinese citizens were arrested. These scammers tricked internet users into transferring money for up to 6 months. These illegal transactions were made through Chinese financial banks and WeChat mobile payment.

The Belt and Road Helps Continental Triads Become International Criminal Organizations

In a previous article, we saw a TVB America interview of a Mr. Wong who said that when the traffickers ran out of options to sell their hostages, they would have their organs removed before disposing of the bodies of the victims. and the organs would be sold on the black market.

There are many reports claiming the CCP’s involvement in organ harvesting. International committees have condemned the CCP for harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners.

Show must go on

Despite criticism from the Hong Kong public, the Belt and Road developments are going strong. The Hong Kong government and the CCP are determined to make Sihanoukville “the Shenzhen of Cambodia”.

The CCP is ready to introduce the Belt and Road Initiatives to the rest of the world, especially to Europe and the United States. To further convince foreign countries of the dubious project, a 2-day Belt and Road Summit Forum will kick off from August 31 to September 1 in Hong Kong.

Summer Lawson

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