China has pledged to invest in more infrastructure, financing, and tourism projects in Cambodia under its Belt and Road initiative.
Song Guoyou, professor at Fudan University’s Centre of Economic Diplomacy, said cooperation between the two countries has been growing as part of the initiative, and future projects will further push forward the relationship.
“We can cooperate on infrastructure such as railway and port projects, financing and building bonds between our people through tourism,” Mr Guoyou said.
“The Belt and Road initiative was only launched in 2013, so we need more time to increase the scope of the project. We will push forward cooperation to benefit both nations and peoples.”
The Belt and Road scheme, initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is working with more than 60 countries to drive forward development in nations situated along the original Silk Road.
Prince Norodom Sirivudh, founder and Chairman of Cambodian Institute of Cooperation and Peace (CICP), said the initiative is a force against anti-globalisation sentiment reemerging in different parts of the world.
“The Belt and Road initiative is a new global force for peace, stability, prosperity, and harmony. Cambodia is committed to doing its best to realise the initiative,” he said.
Prince Sirivudh added that for Cambodia, infrastructure development and connectivity is the core reason for joining the initiative.
“We have high expectations that China will help Cambodia develop its infrastructure and special economic or industrial zones. It will reduce logistics costs in the kingdom, enhance economic competitiveness, and diversify sources of growth,” he said.
According to a report from the CICP, economic factors define the Cambodian approach towards the Belt and Road initiative.
Cambodia is supportive of the project due to the fact it believes the economic opportunities generated will be tremendous, the report said.
Li An, economic and commercial counsellor at the Chinese Embassy to Cambodia, said Cambodia and China are neighbours and close friends.
He said there is scope for a comprehensive strategic partnership and significant progress to be made in various fields, especially economics and trade cooperation.
China is not only Cambodia’s largest trading partner and source of foreign investment, but also Cambodia’s largest source of tourists, he added.
“We have great confidence in Cambodia’s future development,” he said.
Mr Li said future cooperation is possible between the countries in agriculture, tourism, airports, sea ports, expressways, hydropower stations, power transmission networks, information and communications, irrigation and other infrastructure construction.
Lim Sidenine, secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said the Belt and Road initiative is helping to transform Sihanoukville into the core destination for Chinese investment.
This includes an expressway from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk and the expansion of the sea port, to attract Chinese enterprises.
Mr Sidenine added that agriculture work between the countries will enhance the development of modern farming and strengthen cooperation on rubber, rice, cassava, corn, bean, vegetables, livestock and fisheries.