Cambodia defends China-backed canal project questioned by Vietnam

Deputy PM hails waterway's benefits, says all navies welcome at controversial Ream base.

Cambodia’s deputy prime minister on Thursday defended an ambitious canal project that has raised eyebrows in neighboring Vietnam, calling it a game changer for regional trade.

The $1.7 billion China-funded waterway would connect Phnom Penh with Cambodia’s ports on the Gulf of Thailand directly, bypassing Vietnam. Hanoi has pressed Cambodia to share more information about the canal including its potential environmental impact, amid concerns that it would divert crucial water resources away from its territory.

At Nikkei’s annual Future of Asia forum in Tokyo, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chanthol downplayed any dispute and said the worries are groundless. “The Vietnamese government hasn’t objected to this project,” he said, arguing it was mainly think tanks and researchers who were questioning the plan.

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