James Brooke: China’s big infrastructure influence in tiny Cambodia

Winning big influence in a small, strategically placed nation, China is pouring billions of dollars into Cambodia’s highways, airports and railroads. Southeast Asia’s top beneficiary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Cambodia is conveniently sandwiched between two China skeptics — Vietnam and Thailand.

Over the last decade, massive Chinese investment contributed to the doubling of Cambodia’s economy, bringing the nation of 17 million people closer to the levels of its neighboring giants. Riding this economic boom, Hun Sen plans to transfer power this month to his 45-year-old son, Hun Manet. After investing heavily in the father over the last four decades, China is betting on the smooth extension of a family dynasty.

South of Phnom Penh, Chinese bulldozers are extending Hun Sen Boulevard to a 10-square-mile construction site. There, the China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Group is converting a landscape of rice paddies into what is to be, by size, the world’s ninth largest airport. By 2030, Phnom Penh’s future international airport is to rival the airports of Bangkok and Saigon, handling the world’s largest jets and 30 million passengers annually. This time next year, Techo Takhmao International Airport is to open with the first of three 2.5-mile-long cement runways.

In full: https://www.berkshireeagle.com/opinion/columnists/james-brooke-china-cambodia-infrastructure/article_7bea51f8-3868-11ee-a911-876d35ab575c.html

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