French architect not going anywhere: Cambodia

Yet another diplomatic row, this one bringing China, the UK, the US and France into the fray.

A French architect who was detained in Cambodia this month on suspicions concerning his involvement with infamous Chinese politician Bo Xilai will be staying put, according to Bloomberg:

“Cambodia decided not to extradite a French citizen linked to the family of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said.

Cambodia detained Patrick Devillers earlier this month at China’s request, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said yesterday. Devillers has not yet been charged with a crime, Koy Kuong said, without providing details on the reason behind the decision.

‘Cambodia decided to keep him in Cambodia,’ he said by phone today. ‘Concerned authorities are investigating into the case right now.'”

As the New York Times reported a couple days ago, Deviller’s relationship with Gu Kailai, who was arrested in April on suspicion that she was involved in the death of a British businessman.

According to the Times:

“Mr. Devillers had remained in Cambodia despite being warned strongly and repeatedly by friends that he was in danger there, in part because of the Cambodian government’s close connections to the Chinese government, which is its largest creditor and aid donor. Mr. Devillers may have stayed because he began living with a Cambodian woman soon after moving to Phnom Penh nearly six years ago and has a kindergarten-aged child with her, said a friend who insisted on anonymity because of the diplomatic tussle over Mr. Devillers.

Mr. Devillers has immersed himself for many years in the study of Taoism, a mystical philosophy with deep roots in Chinese culture, and the most famous Taoist text, the Dao De Jing, also known as the Tao Te Ching.

In an e-mail on May 16, he provided a single quote to summarize his contempt for the media interest in him, his denial that he has engaged in money laundering for anyone in China or been involved in any other wrongdoing, and his hope that the outside world would soon lose interest in him.

‘Regarding our subject, I came on this quote from the Dao De Jing by Laozi which says: ‘Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself,’ Mr. Devillers wrote. ‘I believe this teaching to be full of wisdom and hope facts will unfold the truth of it.'”

The Times also reports that when Ms. Gu established a British company 12 years ago to choose European architecs for a project in China, she and Devillers were business partners and shared an address. Whoops. Looks like a bad case of the past coming back to haunt you.

Naturally, France is not pleased. According to the Telegraph:

“France has warned that Cambodia must not take any action without a clear legal basis. ‘We have asked Cambodian authorities for clarifications on the motives for his arrest,’ said the French Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.

‘We have made clear that we will be watchful that no legal action of any kind be brought against him unless its legal basis has been clearly established.’

He added: ‘We are following this case very closely and providing consular protection. The consul visited him immediately after his arrest and continues to do so each day.'”

Bo and his wife have been off the grid since they were removed from their positions within the Communist party in March. Yuh oh.

Read more about France, China, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique.

In just over a week our Summer issue goes live! If you’re a fan of Elaine Sciolino, you will want to check out our July issue… stay tuned for more details!

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