The influx of Chinese people and influence in Cambodia has grabbed many negative headlines in recent months, but the positive aspects that come as a result of the increasingly tight relationship between Phnom Penh and Beijing often go overlooked.
As a stable, developed economy, China has a lot to share with Cambodia, and the Cambodian government has identified this, with Prime Minister Hun Sen in China recently to sign a series of deals that will help to open markets, increase development opportunities, standardise business and governance, and stimulate Cambodia’s economy, which is already one of the best performing in the world over the past few years.
“That an economic superpower has the ideals and conscience to build a community of common destiny with other countries, both big and small, is heroic wisdom and a tender and respectful gesture from a civilised country, one that should be regarded as a role model,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said in his address to the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
Among the agreements signed is one that will see Cambodia export 400,000 tonnes of rice to China, which helps to offset a recent ban by the European Union on Cambodian rice exports. The national banks of China and Cambodia have also agreed to cooperate, with Cambodia a key strategic location along the Belt and Road Initiative, which is set to create many thousands of jobs in Cambodia as China continues to upgrade roads and bridges, build airports and ports. Prime Minister Hun Sen has also signed a series of agreements with China in the context of physical infrastructure, trade and investment, as well as progress in cultural exchange by way of trade, tourism and technology.
As an example, the Chinese-backed Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone has created more than 20,000 jobs that are vital in providing opportunities as Cambodia establishes itself as a lower-middle income country with the goal to keep on growing.