Investors from Jiangsu, a province located along the eastern coast of China, have ventured heavily in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), which is now its sister province following an agreement signed by the governors of both provinces last week.
Jiangsu’s investments in Sihanoukville are mainly in garments and export-oriented enterprises, in addition to a 200-bed hospital and regular humanitarian medical aid provided by the province’s main hospital.
“Cambodia is an important partner within Asean for Jiangsu province and enjoys a special relationship with China,” said Huang Xiqiang, deputy director general of the foreign affairs office of Jiangsu provincial government.
“Jiangsu has frequently sent medical teams to Cambodia for medical assistance to the local people and staff working at local Jiangsu-funded enterprises.
“The medical team was sent to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh city and Kampong Speu province to provide free medical services, giving lectures on health knowledge and training local medical staff,” said Mr Huang.
He said that besides providing humanitarian assistance to Cambodia, investors from Jiangsu have also established the SSEZ in 2008.
This investment, he said, is part of China’s contribution towards the development of Cambodia and provides strategic connectivity to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“The success of the SSEZ where almost 200 factories from several countries – including China, Japan, the United States, France, South Korea, Ireland, Vietnam and Thailand – are located, clearly shows the close cooperation between China and Cambodia in the fields of economy, trade and investment under the BRI. These factories provide employment to more than 20,000 Cambodians,” he said.
Mr Huang also said Jiangsu is aware that just investments in physical infrastructure and factories alone will not benefit Cambodia. There is also a need to improve technical and vocational training.
To this end, he said Jiangsu’s province provides scholarships to Cambodian students to pursue education in various fields and organises regular exchanges of training activities to enhance capacity building.
Mr Huang said Jiangsu has just one percent of the land mass in mainland China and less than six percent of the country’s total population, but provides more than 10 percent of China’s annual GDP.
He said Jiangsu is making the most of its strategically important geographical location and its abundance of mineral resources, including non-ferrous metals, clay, building materials and rare metals.
“Our advantageous position is a result of our unique geological position. Up until now, 133 types of mineral resources have been discovered and 65 have seen commercial production,” he said.