Cambodia has expanded government monitoring of social media to include apps like TikTok, WhatsApp and Telegram in a bid to target fake news. Though intended in part to combat misinformation about COVID-19, the announcement has raised concerns about a new wave of censorship of independent media and political opposition in the country.
As Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen suppresses political opponents in an attempt to protect his power and prepare for the next general election, many Southeast Asian countries, particularly Thailand, are facilitating his political repression.
After years of delay, Cambodia began extracting oil for the first time in December 2020, signaling a new era for the country’s economy.
Faced with economic and strategic challenges, Turkey has turned to Southeast Asia to potentially help revive its economy. Ankara may find support from China in its new push, but building ties with the region will depend on Turkey’s ability to keep religion out of the equation.
It is unclear if Cambodia’s apparent criticism of Chinese coronavirus vaccines is meant to refute the country’s reputation as China’s proxy. If that is the case, then Cambodia needs to do far more to introduce balance to its foreign policy.
Southeast Asia’s autocratic leaders have adored Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy and at times won trade and defense deals without adequate scrutiny of their poor human rights records. The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will take a tougher stance on democracy and human rights in bilateral deals.
The US has placed conditions on its aid to Cambodia over the kingdom’s human rights violations and growing ties to China. The change is not likely to achieve any major changes unless the US comes with an offer that matches China’s commitment to the current regime in Cambodia.
In Cambodia, the end of the year marks the start of the traditional season for making prahok fish paste, a key part of the country’s diet. But Cambodia’s food supply—and that of the 70 million people who rely on the Mekong river—is at risk due to impacts from large hydropower dams and climate change.
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The ‘World’s Loneliest Elephant’, Kaavan has left Pakistan for the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary after years of campaigning by animal rights groups for his relocation.