In Cambodia, the BRI must benefit locals too

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s delegation has returned from the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, bringing back 10 newly signed agreements. The trip was closely followed by Cambodians, who have an increasing interest in the course of the relationship between Cambodia and China.

This bilateral relationship was first elevated after Cambodia’s late Prince Norodom Sihanouk and former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai met on the sidelines of the Bandung Conference in 1955. Although domestic political changes in Cambodia disrupted engagement for some time, the relationship has been restored and is advancing substantially. By many accounts, Cambodia is one of China’s closest allies in the region.

Economically, China has undeniably become Cambodia’s largest economic influencer. China is Cambodia’s largest foreign investor, bilateral donor, trading partner, rice buyer and source of foreign tourists. Cambodia has embraced (BRI) since its inception in 2013. From infrastructure and connectivity development to cross-border trade and tourism, Cambodia has benefitted significantly from cooperation with China under the BRI framework.

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