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2012/03/07

China gambles on Cambodia's shrinking forests | Reuters

-Remember: All development is bad!  ;)
 
BOTUM SAKOR, Cambodia (Reuters) - It was once the unspoiled jungle home for tigers, elephants, bears and gibbons. But today Botum Sakor National Park in southwest Cambodia is fast disappearing to accommodate a much less endangered species: the Chinese gambler.

He means Tianjin Union Development Group, a real-estate company from northern China, which is transforming 340 sq km (130 sq miles) of Botum Sakor into a city-sized gambling resort for "extravagant feasting and revelry," its website says. A 64-km (40-mile) highway, now almost complete, will cut a four-lane swathe through mostly virgin forest.

"It's been my land since my grandparents' generation," says Srey Khmao, 68, from Thmar Sar. "I lived peacefully there until Union Group threatened the villagers and told them to remove their belongings."

Such protests could ratchet up anti-Chinese sentiment in Cambodia, where China is both the largest foreign investor and source of foreign aid. That aid, often in the form of no-strings-attached infrastructure projects, has made Hun Sen less reliant on Western donors, who generally demand greater transparency and respect for human rights.
 


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