China Loans Cash for Irrigation, Power Projects

Finance Minister Keat Chhon has signed a deal with China’s ambassador to Cambodia to secure a concessional loan of $121 million to fund irrigation and power projects.

In the latest promise of cash from Cambodia’s biggest donor, Chi­na will fund a power transmission line con­necting Phnom Penh with Bavet City in Svay Rieng province, according to a report from state newswire Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP). 

AKP reported that the loan, which was officially signed with new Chi­nese Ambassador Bu Jianguo on Friday, would also go toward the Achang irrigation system in Kampong Chhnang province, but did not specify how much of the money would go on each of the projects.

Ngy Tayi, secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, confirmed that the agreement for the loan was signed on Friday.

“This is the result of long talks with the Chinese side,” he said, referring questions to the official report.

Svay Rieng provincial governor Chieng Am welcomed the agreement, but said he did not have any details about the power transmission plan.

“We gratefully welcome this good news, because we will have more electricity to consume in our province,” Mr. Am said.

The loan, agreed within two weeks after the July 28 national election, is just the latest sum of cash from China to Cambodia during the rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has cast himself as a close ally of the emerging superpower in recent years. Just this month, Mr. Hun Sen said a threat that the U.S. may sever ties with Cambodia could be disregarded since China would meet any unmet foreign assistance needs.

Critics have said loans, aid and military assistance have left Cam­bodia subservient to China.

Just days after the election, China donated 1,000 handguns and 50,000 bullets to Cambodia’s National Police. Cambodia has recently taken delivery of at least two of a shipment of a dozen Z-9 military helicopters from China.

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