Monday, September 20, 2010

Illegal immigrants pour across border seeking work [... in China]


Sound familiar? It's happening in China, where rapid growth has led to a shortage of workers to fill low-skill jobs. But the Chinese don't seem to be concerned.

September 19, 2010
By David Pierson
Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Aidian, China —


The illegal immigrants come seeking higher wages, steady employment and a chance at better lives for their families. They cross the border in remote stretches where there are no fences or they pay traffickers to sneak them past border guards.

Then they work as maids, harvest crops or toil hunched in sweatshops.

As familiar as this sounds, this is not the United States or Europe, but China, which is attracting an increasing number of undocumented workers to fill the bottom rungs of its booming economy. Tens of thousands of foreigners from Southeast Asia, North Korea and even faraway Africa are believed to be working here illegally.

Among the most active areas for the furtive crossings is China's 800-mile southern borders with Vietnam, whose people are drawn by jobs in China that may pay twice as much as they do at home.

"People are struggling for money in Vietnam. They look at China and think it's rich," said Anh Bang, a 23-year-old Vietnamese clothing merchant who travels legally to China several times a month but empathizes with those who enter without documents. "In China they can find a job easily and earn so much more."

Labor shortages in China's export-heavy eastern coastal regions are driving demand for foreign workers. So are Chinese workers' calls for higher wages, which are cutting into employers' profits.

"This is an economic phenomenon," said Zhang Wenshan, a professor of law at Guangxi University who has studied the rise of illegal workers. "It's globalization. Labor costs are increasing in China. This is hard on employers who don't necessarily need sophisticated laborers. So a lot of foreigners are motivated to come here.… It's like how many Chinese have gone to the U.S. to seek better lives."

It's an unlikely reversal for a country that until recently seemed to have an endless supply of cheap labor. But rapid development and urbanization are just as quickly raising workers' expectations. Young, rural Chinese have fled the farms for cities. Factory workers are choosing to strike rather than accept minimal pay. In their wake they're leaving openings that foreign workers are eager to fill.

With their numbers still relatively small and China's economy growing rapidly, illegal immigrants so far haven't been the lightning rod that they are in the United States. China has no social safety net to speak of, so there's no resentment of immigrants using public services.

Still, tensions are growing. The Chinese government, historically wary of foreigners, has granted permanent residency to only a few thousand migrants in the last three decades. Sporadic roundups of illegal workers are on the rise. Friction between authorities and African merchants exploded into a riot last year in the southern city of Guangzhou after police were accused of harassment.

Controlling the influx of illegal workers isn't easy, even for an authoritarian state. China shares a border with 14 countries. The nation famous for its Great Wall has virtually no fencing or barriers along this boundary, which stretches 13,670 miles through tropical forests, mountains and deserts.

"Beijing will start worrying if they're not worrying already," said Demetri Papademetriou, president of the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. "But no country that reaches the status of China's economy doesn't go through this."

For many Vietnamese, the quest for the Chinese Dream often begins in border communities such as Aidian, a shabby village of 8,500 in the province of Guangxi, an under-developed region along the border with Vietnam.

On a recent rainy afternoon, two young men wearing basketball jerseys sat on plastic stools on the Chinese side of the border collecting 10,000 Vietnamese dong, about 50 cents, from a steady flow of people entering from the Vietnamese side. The visitors showed no documents, even though a passport and visa are required by law. The men collecting the entrance fees declined to say whom they worked for.

Wei Haiguang, a contractor whose business is just up the street from the border crossing, said corruption in the region was endemic. He said friends of his had helped guide Vietnamese workers into China at the bidding of employment agents, who pay about $30 for each laborer. Most of the foreigners are young, 17 to 20 years old.

The government "won't ever be able to control the border," said Wei, a stocky 38-year-old wearing Buddhist bracelets and an ivory pendant. "There's too many small roads and passes. Besides, who else is going to work in the fields?"

The job of Chinese authorities is particularly challenging here because it's tough to tell who's who. Members of the Zhuang ethnic minority group dominate parts of Guangxi and share a heritage

Cambodia buys nearly 100 tanks, military trucks from Eastern Europe

September 20, 2010
Xinhua

Cambodia has bought nearly 100 tanks, armored personnel vehicles and other military trucks from Eastern Europe, military and port officials said Monday.

The officials said nearly 100 tanks, armored personnel vehicles, and military trucks were shipped off Sihanoukville Sea Port on Monday and will later be taken to Phnom Penh.

Chhum Socheat, a spokesman for Cambodia's Ministry of National Defense confirmed the arrivals of the military trucks, but refused to give exact number and other details.

However, he said, they were bought from Eastern Europe.

The Sihanoukville Sea Port officials said they saw around 50 tanks, and 40 armored personnel vehicles and a few other military trucks.

They said those military equipment were shipped on a large vessel of about 120 meters long and 17 meters wide.

Sihanoukville Sea Port is located in Sihanoukville Province, a coastal area and is about 230 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh.

Last week, Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also confirmed Cambodia is to receive a shipment of 50 tanks and 44 armored personnel carriers from an Eastern European country, but decline to give the details, just saying that the vehicles were to be "used for national defense."

[Israel's] Queenco signs Cambodian hotel casino deal

Yigal Zilkha's Queenco will own 70% of the joint venture, which will be based at the Holiday Palace Hotel in Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

20 September 10
Globes' correspondent (Israel)

Queenco Leisure International Ltd., today signed an agreement with Paradise Investment of Cambodia to operate a hotel, casino and other tourist facilities in the country at the Holiday Palace Hotel in Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

Queenco will own 70% of the joint venture and Paradise Investment 30%. The agreement is for a 25 year lease of the hotel with an option for a further 25 years. Queenco will pay $30,000 rent per month in quarterly installments.

After the announcement of the signing of the agreement Queenco chairman Yigal Zilkha said, "In recent years we have identified the potential of South East Asia and are working to expand the company's activities in the region. Growth in gaming activities in South East Asia in general and in Cambodia in particular is rapid and the business potential is far from being realized."

Queenco has hotel and casino activities in Greece, Serbia and Romania.

The company's share price is unchanged on the London Stock Exchange today at ₤3.39.

The share price of parent company Queenco fell 0.98% on the TASE in early afternoon trading to NIS 3.95.

Here come our ruski tanks and APCs to counter those dirty, rotten, East European tanks ordered by the Thais!

KI-Media Note: There must be a lot of East European arm dealers out there who are laughing all their way to the bank!
Russian-made BTR-60 armoured personnel carriers (APC) are unloaded from a ship at Preah Sihanouk port, about 230 km (142.9 miles) west of Phnom Penh September 20, 2010. Cambodia has bought 44 APCs and 50 new T55 tanks as part of the country's effort to "strengthen sovereignty" following the tension with Thailand over the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear temple since 2008, the pro-government newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily reported. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
A Russian-made BTR-60 armoured personnel carrier (APC) is unloaded from a ship at Preah Sihanouk port, about 230 km (142.9 miles) west of Phnom Penh September 20, 2010. Cambodia has bought 44 APCs and 50 new T55 tanks as part of the country's effort to "strengthen sovereignty" following the tension with Thailand over the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear temple since 2008, the pro-government newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily reported. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Russian-made BTR-60 armoured personnel carriers (APC) are seen on a ship prior being unloaded at Preah Sihanouk port, about 230 km (142.9 miles) west of Phnom Penh September 20, 2010. Cambodia has bought 44 APCs and 50 new T55 tanks as part of the country's effort to "strengthen sovereignty" following the tension with Thailand over the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear temple since 2008, the pro-government newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily reported. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
A Soviet-made T-55 tank is seen on a ship prior being unloaded at Preah Sihanouk port, about 230 km (142.9 miles) west of Phnom Penh September 20, 2010. Cambodia has bought 44 APCs and 50 new T-55 tanks as part of the country's effort to "strengthen sovereignty" following the tension with Thailand over the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear temple since 2008, the pro-government newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily reported. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
A Soviet-made T-55 tank is unloaded at Preah Sihanouk port, about 230 km (142.9 miles) west of Phnom Penh September 20, 2010. Cambodia has bought 44 APCs and 50 new T-55 tanks as part of the country's effort to "strengthen sovereignty" following the tension with Thailand over the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear temple since 2008, the pro-government newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily reported. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Russian-made BTR-60 armoured personnel carriers (APC) are seen on a ship prior to being unloaded at Preah Sihanouk port, about 230 km (142.9 miles) west of Phnom Penh September 20, 2010. Cambodia has bought 44 APCs and 50 new T55 tanks as part of the country's effort to "strengthen sovereignty" following the tension with Thailand over the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear temple since 2008, the pro-government newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily reported. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

A 2500 year old archaeological site was unexpectedly destroyed in Cambodia last week. An archaeologist who rushed to the scene was shocked to discover heavy equipment still leveling the land, apparently to create temporary housing for a nearby company. Story by Kent Davis
Memot archaeological site destruction 1 Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

Local archaeologist Heng Sophady was shocked to see a priceless Cambodian prehistoric site destroyed, apparently for temporary housing.

Memot, Cambodia — The rural Memot area in southeastern Cambodia has proven itself as one of the richest sources of information about the country’s pre-historic development. Ancestors of the primitive people who once lived there later became part of the Khmer Empire. The Khmer, one of the world’s most advanced artistic civilizations, grew to rule most of Southeast Asia only 1500 years after the Memot villages formed.

On Tuesday, September 2, a colleague in the Memot area placed an urgent call to archaeologist Heng Sophady to report the destruction of an ancient village site. Mr Heng rushed to the site, located in Samrong Village and called the Samrong Circular Earthwork.

3D Image of Hourn Khim Circular Earthwork Memot Cambodia Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

Example of a circular earthwork in Memot, similar to the Samrong site destroyed.

While historical research in Memot goes back more than 50 years, this site had only been discovered in an aerial photo in 1997 by Waseda University professor Yasushi Kojo.

Memot archaeological site Cambodia Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

Memot, Cambodia

Work in the Memot area began in 1959 with French archaeologist Louis Malleret, who described a series of 17 circular earthworks. These mounds represented the sites of early villages.

The first local excavation was begun in 1962 by Bernard Philippe Groslier who coined the name “Mimotien” for the previously unknown civilization. Now 36 massive prehistoric villages have been discovered in Cambodia. Radiocarbon dating and fragments of glass beads found at one site indicate an original settlement date close to 1000 BC. For the excellent full story, visit www.devata.org.

Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 03:56 PM PDT

Researchers worldwide were shocked when bulldozers unexpectedly overran a 2500-year-old archaeological site in Cambodia, a country that depends on historical assets to attract more than 2 million visitors each year. Government authorities reacted quickly to minimize the damage and prevent future accidents like this one.

Article by Kent Davis [Click here for Italian media coverage]

Memot archaeological site destruction 11 Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

Local archaeologist Heng Sophady was shocked to see construction equipment destroying a priceless Cambodian prehistoric site.

Memot, Cambodia – When archaeologist Heng Sophady arrived at the 2500 year-old prehistoric site he was stunned to find the area leveled, with bulldozers still pushing dirt that only a day before held clues to Cambodia’s history. Local contractors ordered the land clearing, unaware of the irreplaceable history that lay beneath their feet.

Memot Site Map Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

Prehistoric sites in Southeastern Cambodia are filled with details about the country's distant past.

The Memot area is particularly rich in ancient artifacts, offering insights into some of the earliest human settlements in Cambodia. Discoveries include tools, dwellings, jewelry, bones, beads and implements used in everyday life. French archaeologists found the prehistoric villages more than 50 years ago. Cambodian scholars and international teams from Germany, Japan, Australia, France, the United States and other countries continue the investigation. The Samrong Earthwork where the incident occurred was unexcavated, and was only discovered by aerial photography in 1997.

samrong 00 Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

By the time Mr Heng arrived at the remote site the damage was done.

On September 2, Mr Heng received an urgent call with news of the destruction. He quickly rushed to the scene but the damage was already done. Mr Heng quickly contacted authorities in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts who were quick to respond. Ministry officials immediately scheduled an emergency meeting to review Mr Heng’s field report and authorized him to meet with the Director General of the Memot Rubber Plantation, which manages large tracts of land for its operations (see map below). For the excellent full story, visit www.devata.org.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 12th-century facebook of Angkor Wat

Figures from the terrace of the Leper King

Identities of the mysterious women carved into the Cambodian temple could finally be revealed. Andrew Buncombe reports

Monday, 6 September 2010
The Independence (UK)

Amid the splendour of the 12th-century temple at Angkor Wat, they stand and stare like silent sentinels, sensuous rather than erotic, carved with elegance and care. But exactly who are these 1,786 mysterious women and why, more than a century after Cambodia's famed Hindu temple was rediscovered byWestern archaeologists, did it take the efforts of an amateur researcher from Florida to push experts into trying to resolve the puzzle?

Though Kent Davis had lived in South-east Asia during the 1990s, he did not have an opportunity to see Angkor Wat until 2005. Like most visitors to the huge complex in the centre of the Cambodia, for many years cut off from the outside world because of the presence of theKhmer Rouge, he was mesmerised by the experience.

But he was also left with a flurry of questions. "I went to Angkor as a tourist and I was startled when I got there to notice these women," said Mr Davis, 54, a publisher and writer who now lives near Tampa, Florida. "I was not prepared for it. The human element of them struck me and I wanted to know who they were. I asked one of the guides and he said they were there to serve the king after he went to heaven."

Mr Davis's interest was tweaked, so he wanted to know more. He vowed he would return to the US and investigate. Yet when he got home he found there was essentially nothing written about these women, who appear throughout the temple complex in full body carvings.

Indeed, the only study of the female carvings he could find had been made in the early 20th century by the daughter of Frenchman Henri Marchal, then the curator of the temple site. Frustrated but intrigued, he decided he would find out for himself. Five years and several trips to Angkor later, Mr Davis has slowly begun to get some answers.

After turning for help to computer experts from the University of Michigan, a team was able to conduct facial mapping experiments on digital photographs of the women, or devatas. The team, whose findings were presented last month at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition, an academic convocation in Istanbul, concluded that there were at least eight different facial types, perhaps reflecting a variety of ethnicities in the Khmer kingdom.

The results are to be examined further by archaeologists and more computer mapping is planned. But for all the effort that went into the mapping, the results of which were published in DatAsia magazine, many questions about the women remain unanswered.

"There are almost 1,800 women's faces there," said Mr Davis, who is now trying to use 65 separate characteristics to place the faces in a database. "It's a Facebook of the 12th century, but no one had ever heard of them. This was the biggest temple the Khmer people ever built and it must have been important to them because they threw everything into it. They would have put important things in it; these women must have been important to the kingdom."

Mr Davis wrote to universities, pestered experts, and sought the opinions of people from around the globe who had worked at Angkor. Trude Jacobson, an assistant professor of history at the University of Queensland, Australia, and author of Lost Goddesses: Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History, said: "Kent is an enthusiastic researcher of a question that everyone assumed was settled long ago, or doesn't matter.

"The history of women in Cambodia, until very recently, has been one in which they were relegated to the shadows. His interest is infectious and has made others more interested in questions of gender in an otherwise heavily masculinised historical inquiry."

What has struck Mr Davis as he has continued his enquiries, is that for all the women at Angkor there are relatively few male carvings."Could these different women represent the different professions of the Khmer kingdom?" he said. "Could they be scholars, agriculturalists? I think they must represent the most important women in the kingdom."

Dr Peter Sharrock, an expert on South-east Asia at London's School of African and Oriental Studies, has studied the temples around Angkor for years. "We understand [the female carvings] little but they play a major role in the architectural sculpture of these temples, which must imply a major role in the beliefs of the ancient Khmers and in the rituals in their temples," he said.

"Khmer descent was primarily matrilineal, and Khmer women were literate and powerful. Many were queens, and most kings base their genealogies and claims to the throne on their female ancestors. The ancient Khmers venerated the goddess Prajnaparamita in the most elaborate cult to her known anywhere in Asia. So there are fundamental questions here about an exceptional female religious and regal role in ancient Cambodia that remain unanswered."

Professor Jacobson believes the images were part of a broader iconography relating to the supernatural world. "The devatas, placed either side of doorways, were guards who monitored who was permitted access from the mundane world to the supernatural," she said.

"[Those] represented as flying or dancing, were responsible for leading the souls of the dead to the supernatural world from the battlefield. The models for the images at Angkor were doubtless members of the royal family."

Mr Davis said he was dedicated to trying to throw greater light on the mystery of the carvings by working with the team of researchers he has cultivated. At this point, he said, starting to analyse the images was like "being the first person to get a map to the British Museum and the keys to the front door".

He added: "Once we define facial types more thoroughly, an incredibly exciting prospect appears. If these images are portraits of actual people, it's logical to assume that they had children within this region, and that creates the possibility of using facial pattern recognition on people living in this area to see if facial shapes and types seen at Angkor still live here. We could actually find the descendants of some of the sacred women in the temple."

Symbol of a nation

*The sprawling temple complex of Angkor Wat, located amid dense jungle and close to the city of Siem Reap, was built in the early 12th century and is one of a series of stunning palaces and temples that were built over a 400-year period by the Khmer Kingdom.

*Today, the temples attract up to a million tourists a year, but for many years the remarkable buildings were unknown to the West, which only "rediscovered" them in the 19th century. During the 1970s and 1980s they were off-limits as a result of the presence of the Khmer Rouge, the Maoist-inspired rebels who ruled Cambodia from 1975-79 and who then engaged in a bitter civil war for the next two decades.

*Angkor Wat itself, the most impressive and best-preserved of the complexes, was built for King Suryavarman II in the early part of the 12th century and is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. It has since become a symbol of Cambodia, even appearing on its national flag.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cambodia aims high with record-breaking skyscraper

Wed Sep 1, 2010

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia is aiming for the record books with an ambitious plan to construct Asia's tallest building, a 555-metre skyscraper worth $200 million (£130 million), Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday.

The building would be five times taller than the country's present highest structure, the new, 32-storey Canadia Bank Tower, which dominates the Phnom Penh skyline, where buildings of more than five floors stand out.

If the project goes ahead, it would top the Taipei 101 Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Centre and Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers -- the world's three tallest buildings after the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

"It will be shorter than the one in Dubai and taller than any buildings in Asia, and I think we can do it," Hun Sen announced during a university graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

"We don't have to be too conservative and we also don't need to be too outdated," Hun Sen added, brushing off criticism from cultural groups concerned that a construction boom was threatening the city's French colonial architecture.

Hun Sen said the proposal had been made to the country's Land Management Ministry and local lender Canadia Bank would be involved in the project.

However, real estate companies questioned whether there was much demand for a building half a kilometre high in the capital of one of Asia's poorest countries.

"Where would the investors come from?" said Sung Bonna, CEO of Bonna Real Estate Group in Phnom Penh.

"We are concerned about the shortage of demand and occupancy rates so we need time, but we hope this dream comes true."

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Martin Petty)

Cambodia boasts plans for Asia's tallest building [-We may not have anything to eat, but we'll have the tallest building in Asia!]

Posted: 01 Sep 2010 08:38 AM PDT

Wednesday, September 01, 2010
By SOPHENG CHEANG (AP)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Impoverished Cambodia plans to build a 1,820-foot (555-meter) skyscraper, its prime minister said Wednesday, a feat that would give one of the region's least-developed capitals the tallest building in Asia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said he had approved a master plan for the skyscraper, which would be located about half a mile (one kilometer) from the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh — a dusty city of colonial villas, slums and one standout skyscraper, the recently completed Canadia Tower that is about 377 feet (115 meters) high.

Hun Sen did not say when construction would start, how much it would cost or give any other details, except that it would be built by a Cambodian company, Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp., owned by tycoon Pung Khiav Se.

The company's project manager, Touch Samnang, said preliminary estimates suggest the building would cost $200 million, but the project was being studied by experts and government ministries. He said it would include a shopping mall, hotel, apartments and an entertainment center.

That figure is dwarfed by the sum for what is currently Asia's tallest building, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan. Rising 1,667 feet (508 meters), it cost about $1.6 billion. It had been the world's tallest since 2004 but was overtaken in January when Dubai unveiled the Burj Khalifa, which rises 2,717 feet (828 meters) from the desert.

Cambodia, whose commerce is tiny by international standards, has been experiencing a real estate bubble for the past few years, but several ambitious construction projects have been delayed or suspended.

Cambodia to have 'Asian Riviera.'


Wednesday, 1st September 2010
Source : HVS Internmational
The Royal Group (TRG), a Cambodian corporation in property and infrastructure development, has unveiled a masterplan to develop Koh Rong into Asia's first environmental resort destination.

The plan, which aims to transform the island into the next ‘Asian Riviera’, will cover elements such as infrastructural development of an airport, a marina, a port and roads, as well as resorts, hotels, golf courses, shopping, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

TRG has been granted a 99-year lease for the development, which has a five-year schedule for the first phase and eventual completion in 25 years’ time.