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Chinese Companies Cozy Up to Army

Ban Sokrith / Khmer Times Share:
Pol Saroeun spoke at a meeting with Chinese investors on Sunday. Supplied

Cambodia’s armed forces have vowed to protect Chinese businesses and investors in the Kingdom and sought to reassure corporations fearful of the country’s potential hurdles in a statement released yesterday.
General Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said that Cambodia was thankful to the Chinese government for consistently supporting the “economic and social development” of the Kingdom and for being the country’s largest investor.
“I promise to be ready to cooperate and to ensure the safety of the companies there. This is so that other Chinese factories will invest here,” read the statement, which was released following Gen. Saroeun’s meeting, led by director-general of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) Cao JianJiang, with 30 Chinese businessmen and investors on Sunday.
During the meeting, Mr. Cao also said that the SSEZ will be developed to mimic the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, the first economic zone in China, with the capacity to hire over 10,000 people.
The SSEZ is an overseas economic and trade cooperation zone operated by both Jiangsu Taihu Cambodia International Economic Cooperation Investment Co. and Cambodia International Investment Development Group Co.
Located close to National Road 4, about 12 kilometers from Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and 210 kilometers from Phnom Penh, the industrial zone stretches over 11 square kilometers. The SSEZ is a hub of investment for textile and clothing factories as well as plants making machinery, electronic parts, and light industry products.
Veasna Var, a Ph.D. candidate in political and international studies at the Australian Defense Force Academy, told Khmer Times in June that China was a major source of development assistance to Cambodia, having disbursed more than $200 million annually since 1992. They have provided about $3 billion in concessional loans and grants to Cambodia.
In addition to development aid, China has also reportedly provided a considerable amount of military assistance to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF). In recent years, China significantly increased military cooperation with the RCAF by providing loans and military equipment including trucks, helicopters and aircrafts. They have also built military training and medical facilities and donated uniforms.

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