WASHINGTON, D.C.: The White House on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) said it was cutting $8.3 million worth of aid programs to Cambodia, a largely symbolic move to protest against an anti-democratic crackdown.
In a statement, the White House said it was cutting programs designed to support Cambodia’s tax department, local government and the military.
“Recent setbacks to democracy in Cambodia,” the statement said, “caused us deep concern, including Senate elections on February 25 that failed to represent the genuine will of the Cambodian people.”
An official said the cut was likely to be worth in the region of $8.3 million.
Support will continue for programs that help Cambodians directly, including promoting health, agriculture, mine clearance and civil society.
The United States has had a difficult relationship with Cambodia since it waged a massive bombing campaign there in the 1970.
While other South East Asian nations have maintained close ties with Washington, Phnom Penh has been more firmly tied to China.
The previous US administration had been frustrated by Cambodia’s efforts—at Beijing’s urging- to water down Asean positions against Chinese land grabs in the South China Sea and on other issues.
A series of draconian measures against the Cambodian opposition have only deepened the divide.
Strongman Premier Hun Sen has overseen a crackdown on the press, civil society and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was disbanded following a court ruling last November not long after its leader was arrested on treason charges.