The uncontested re-election of Cambodia’s leader this month is unlikely to boost its profile with Western nations, analysts say, but it might be an opportunity for Phnom Penh to diversify its China-centric economic ties and reduce its debt burden to Beijing.
On July 23, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) are tipped to win 92 per cent of the 125 seats contested in the election, a walkover that will extend his long-time rule.
Phnom Penh has in recent years become increasingly reliant on Beijing, which has emerged as the kingdom’s largest source of aid and investments. China became the largest donor in Cambodia in 1999, and the largest foreign investor in 2011. A year later, it surpassed Japan as Cambodia’s largest official development aid and soft-loan provider.