China Funded 70 Percent of Cambodian Roads, Bridges: Minister

About 70 percent of roads and bridges in Cambodia have been funded by China, with loans for their financing adding up to about $2 billion, government-affiliated Fresh News reported the transport minister as saying on Friday.

Minister Sun Chanthol was accepting mechanical equipment donated to Cambodia by the regional superpower when he said that over 2,000 km of roads across the country and seven major bridges had been constructed with Chinese funds, the website reported.

cam bridge photo
Workers from the China Road and Bridge Corporation in April 2014 connect the two sides of a $27.5 million Chinese-funded bridge across the Tonle Sap river. (Lauren Crothers/The Cambodia Daily)

Ministry spokesman Var Sim Sorya could not be reached for comment.

But according to Markus Karbaum, a German political scientist with a focus on Cambodia, this investment “reflects Cambodia’s ongoing dependency [on] China which has been funding infrastructure projects, the military, and other state agencies of the kingdom for years.”

“For the Beijing government, this is really an excellent and reasonably priced investment as it preserves Cambodia’s loyalty on the international stage,” he added.

For nearly six years, Beijing has been the country’s biggest source of foreign funding. Critics have voiced concerns that the investments increase pressure on Cambodia to toe China’s political line, and have pointed to the Cambodian government consistently deporting Taiwanese criminals to mainland China and scuttling various joint-Asean statements related to the disputed South China Sea. ,  

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