The Funan Techo Canal Won’t Have A Military Purpose

Arguments that Cambodia’s China-backed canal project will pose a security threat to Vietnam are wildly overblown.

Earlier this month, I wrote a column for Radio Free Asia (“The Funan Techo Canal won’t end Cambodia’s dependency on Vietnam”) arguing for some level-headedness in discussions of the potential construction of the Funan Techo Canal, which will cut through eastern Cambodia, connecting the capital to the southern coast. But a few more remarks are needed because of some rather oddball opinions espoused of late, including some made recently by Sam Rainsy, Cambodia’s exiled opposition leader.

He has claimed – for instance, in emails to several newspapers in which I was bcc’ed for some reason, so I presume it wasn’t private discourse – that the canal has “very limited economic interest” for Cambodia. The environmental risk assessments on the canal have not been made public yet, so we can hold off on the economic assessments. Phnom Penh reckons it could cut costs by a third, although that is probably an exaggeration.\

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