Sihanoukville, Cambodia was once known for its quiet, cosy beaches. An atmosphere that mostly attracted families, individual travellers, and backpackers. That was until the Chinese investment flooded in, driven by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
By 2018, the once-tranquil city was transformed. Sihanoukville today is an enclave of Chinese investments and is peppered with Chinese-run, -operated and -patroned hotels, apartment towers, restaurants and gambling dens. The area is also dotted with Chinatowns, festooned with neon signs in Mandarin taking the place of Khmer and English language signs.
In early July, a report from Sihanoukville provincial authorities revealed that as much as 90 percent of Sihanoukville businesses are now owned by mainland Chinese.