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Cambodia Scraps a long-standing U.S. military development aid program, Accepts $150M From China

Earlier this year Cambodia canceled a joint military exercise with the United States, and Prime Minister Hun Sen has lobbied for the U.S. to forgive Cambodia’s $500 million in debts dating back to the 1970s

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Phnom Penh, April 8, 2017: In another sign of a diplomatic shift toward Beijing, Cambodia has scrapped a long-standing U.S. military development aid program.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia notified the Embassy last week of its decision to postpone indefinitely the mission of the U.S. Navy Mobile Construction Battalion – better known as the Seabees – which has been carrying out community service projects in underserved areas of Cambodia since 2008. The Cambodian government did not offer a reason for this decision,” Jay Raman, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, emailed VOA on Wednesday.

The decision ends a program that has run for nine years.

Earlier this year Cambodia canceled a joint military exercise with the United States, and Prime Minister Hun Sen has lobbied for the U.S. to forgive Cambodia’s $500 million in debts dating back to the 1970s.

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The Seabees ran a humanitarian program in Cambodia that included building schools, maternity wards and rural development projects. The projected budget through 2019 was $815,000 according a U.S. embassy spokesman.

However, Royal Cambodian Navy Commander Tea Vinh was quoted by local media as saying the Seabees were going on “vacation” and would complete their assigned projects.

The Seabees’ change of status is a further sign of Cambodia’s closeness with China. Cambodia has gone further than other Southeast Asian nations in courting China, and the shift away from Washington has continued under President Donald Trump despite Hun Sen’s professed admiration for him.

On Tuesday, Hun Sen thanked Beijing for a $150 million grant for the construction of a new sports stadium in the capital.

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“Thanks Mr. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang and the Chinese people that provided support and offered this major grant to Cambodia … which reflects close friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and China,” the Cambodian leader wrote on Facebook.

In October, President Xi made an official visit and left behind $237 million in new aid. Some political analysts have said the increasing aid from China reflects a shift in Cambodia’s international politics toward an Asian neighbor that has no qualms about human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch has reported that during 2016, Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) “significantly escalated persecution on political grounds.”

Chheang Vannarith, chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, told VOA in an email Wednesday that Cambodia was pursuing a more pragmatic foreign policy.

“Cambodia is against any hegemonic power or patron-type country. Cambodia is pro-Cambodia and this has been the core principle of Cambodia’s foreign policy,” he wrote. “However, over-dependency on any single country may challenge Cambodia’s permanent neutrality.”

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Sophal Ear, an associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles, however, said Cambodia’s national interest should be the driver of its foreign policy.

“Increasing dependence on China has long-term negative implications, like any over-dependence on anyone. Cambodia should be independent.”
-VOA

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USA: Everything you want to know about Security Clearance; Find out here!

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA
All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA

Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

Also Read: Governments Across The World Request Apple for 30,000 Device Information

Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)