The path not taken.
- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
Indeed.Never see any environmental protests wonder why?
It’s supposed to be an international airport. It’s supposed to be part of a large-scale holiday resort on a pristine piece of Cambodian coastline. But it’s not.
Some 45,000 hectares of an unspoilt national park is being ripped up to build it. Deep-water channels are being dredged through the clear waters.
Little wonder the Koh Kong Beachside Resort has failed to attract visitors to its casino and hotel facilities.
Work on the $US3.8 billion tourism development appears to have stalled, which is why military analysts have been pouring over satellite photographs tracking the enormous airfield’s continued construction.
They’ve noted a few peculiar points.
Many of the aircraft turning bays are too small for large commercial airliners. Instead, they’re just right for fighter jets. And exactly why it needs to be 3400m long is uncertain.
That’s far larger than even the largest civilian airliners require to land or take off. There is no significant nearby population or industrial centre. And its enormous scale goes far beyond the needs of the languishing Koh Kong resort nearby.
It wouldn’t be the first time Beijing has engaged in major military infrastructure projects under the guise of building a casino.
Its first aircraft carrier, the ex-soviet Riga, was bought from Ukraine in 1998 under the pretence of being turned into a floating betting facility and hotel. In 2012, it emerged as the fully armed and operational combat ship – the Liaoning.
Indications are it is a similar story at Dara Sakor.
While Beijing claims the entirety of the South China Sea, it only borders the northernmost edge. China’s controversial artificial island fortresses have secured its presence in the sea’s middle regions. But it has nothing imposing control over the extreme south, which is likely why the enormous muddy scar is being gouged out of Cambodia’s forest landscape.
An air and naval base at Dara Sakor would give the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and navy (PLAN) easy access to waters contested by Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. And the strategically vital narrow shipping lane of Malacca Strait.
“This will allow China to project its air power through the region, and it changes the whole game,” political scientist Sophal Ear told the New York Times.
“The Pilot Zone’s planned hospitals and recreational areas could theoretically host People’s Liberation Army Navy crews on patrol in the Gulf of Thailand and on the eastern side of the Malacca Strait,” the C4ADS Harbored Ambitions report reads.
“Its proposed future industrial capacity could also theoretically provide logistic support to Chinese warships in line with strategies proposed by China’s analysts.”
The deal – under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative international infrastructure investment program – appears particularly dodgy. Union Development Group has secured exclusive access to almost a quarter of Cambodia’s coastline for 99 years. According to This Week In Asia, it is getting the lot for just $US1 million each year in rent.
This is despite such a deal being against Cambodian law.
But wait, there’s more.
China recently sealed an exclusive deal to rebuild and expand Cambodia’s main Ream naval base at Sihanoukville. According to the Wall Street Journal, Beijing and Phnom Penh signed the secret agreement last year. It will allow China’s navy access for the next 30 years.
Ignoring the ironic dimensions of your comment and taking it on pure face value, there's a h*lluva lot to worry about and act on these days. A target rich environment, one might say. But rest assured I'm against this Chinese beachhead on all counts. I'm not very well up to pace about goings on in Cambodia. While sometimes environmental campaigns also help in countering emerging hard security concerns, on this instance I very much suspect leading with such an approach would be as ineffective and counterproductive as to be inadvisable.Never see any environmental protests wonder why?
Strong, enduring, deeper than merely transactional regional alliances with suitable partners would go a long way in formulating and enforcing a comprehensive response. Sadly such predictability (as far as our own capability to maintain commitments and lead is concerned) is currently in short supply all around and worse, this perilous state is proving to be rather indefinite in duration and haphazard in trajectory. The Chinese leadership is finding many open doors to push upon and the response to each unique challenge (as it pertains to the viability of a competing rules and freedoms based governance) is random at best. Xi and the PLA are consequently moving fast to establish facts on the ground, maybe even uncharacteristically so.
Hard to tell. China (and Russia) in their current doctrines do not consider "war" and "peace" a dichotomy, but a sliding scale.It looks to me like a very aggressive expansion and likely end to autonomy of a certain island state. War basically.
I quickly read up on the current state of Cambodia - not much beyond updating my understanding of the basic facts. While I've kept myself better appraised of the wider general developments concerning China and the worldwide confluences of illiberalism, understanding this context goes only so far in specific cases without acute local knowledge.I get it, also a sliding scale of cost to benefit ratio of how far can we push them UNTIL they get their collective backsides moving, which could be a very long way. The single state/party will always have an advantage over a highly disorganised collection of multi party states who could not decide on tea or coffee at breakfast/conference table.
I think you mean 'possessed', owned would require some form of purchase agreement, cash, barter or whatever. BTW, no it's not.
"Possession is 9/10s of the law." See Taiwan.I think you mean 'possessed', owned would require some form of purchase agreement, cash, barter or whatever. BTW, no it's not.
Yes, expansion like this cannot be turned back to zero but can be countered to reduce further expansion/make it too expensive to continue.