The Social Costs of Chinese Transnational Crime in Sihanoukville

Unrestricted and unregulated development has allowed crime to flourish, and eroded the trust between Cambodians and Chinese expatriates.

Since the inauguration of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, the town of Sihanoukville, the location of Cambodia’s only deep-sea port, has received a massive influx of Chinese immigrants.

In 2013, there were around 80,000 Chinese nationals living in Cambodia. By 2019, that figure had jumped to 250,000. At the peak of the influx, 200,000 of these Chinese nationals lived in Sihanoukville. This increase has also been accompanied by an increase in crimes associated with the Chinese expatriate community in the coastal town, which has become the center of dozens of Chinese-run casinos.

A National Police report revealed that from January to March 2019, Chinese residents were implicated in 241 out of the 341 criminal cases involving foreigners. Between January and September of that year, 744 Chinese residents of Cambodia had been arrested and deported from the country.

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