Proposed Chinese-funded canal in Cambodia raises regional concerns

A proposed Chinese-financed, 180-kilometer canal connecting Phnom Penh with the Gulf of Thailand poses economic, environmental and humanitarian concerns, and has led to speculation that the $1.7 billion Funan Techo Canal could give Chinese military vessels access to interior Cambodia and the Cambodia-Vietnam border.

Cambodians facing potential displacement wonder about compensation. Vietnamese ponder the economic effect of a dredged waterway entirely within Cambodia drawing merchant ships away from the lower Mekong River, Phnom Penh’s current maritime pathway through Vietnam to international waters. With experts predicting the canal would draw water from the Mekong, Vietnamese rice farmers who rely on the river worry about their crops.

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