A widely shared video showing almost 20 tattooed men aggressively chanting about chaos in Sihanoukville was possibly linked to a Chinese criminal group, the Chinese Embassy has suggested, sparking a police investigation.
“Within the next three years, whether Sihanoukville falls into chaos or not depends on my group from Chongqing to decide,” a man shouts in the 10-second clip, which was circulated on Facebook but whose origin is unclear.
The video has fanned fears of rising Chinese-led crime in the coastal city, where a gambling-focused construction and tourism boom has brought an influx of tens of thousands of visitors and migrants from China.
The Chinese Embassy to Cambodia wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday that it was paying close attention to the case and facilitating a joint investigation between Cambodian and Chinese authorities.
It said it suspected the group might be linked to an underworld criminal organization.
“Recently, more than 10 men calling themselves Chinese from Chongqing city posted a short video related to the activities of a criminal group, and boasted that they would cause insecurity in Preah Sihanouk province,” the embassy said.
“We believe that the truth of the issue will be revealed soon.”
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said on Monday that Cambodian police had yet to identify or locate the men in the video.
“The authorities have yet to make an identification, but are working hard on the investigation because there is a video post,” Kim Khoeun said. Cambodian and Chinese authorities were working closely together, he added.
“There is strong cooperation,” he said. “We will cooperate until we find them.”
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Center for Development and Peace, said the video was raising fears about the flow of Chinese nationals into Cambodia.
“An in-depth study must be conducted before accepting development proposals from Chinese [investors] and accepting Chinese tourists,” Kim Eng said.
“The government must be careful to avoid any criminal offenders. It should look into who has committed crimes in other countries or caused problems in other countries, and they should not be welcomed.”
An Interior Ministry report from September said there were now 210,000 Chinese nationals living in Cambodia and 78,000 in Preah Sihanouk province.
From January to October last year, 373 Chinese nationals committed crimes in Cambodia, including 66 women, according to the ministry’s general department of immigration. Most of the cases were related to extortion attempts using audio calls on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
During a meeting with Cambodians in Switzerland on October 24, Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to the public to calm their fears over the Chinese influx. Chinese people were investing money into the economy, and would return to China once they finished their work, he said.
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)