Cambodia

A screen grab from a video featuring the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway. (Internet)

Easy highway, troubled city: How China wins and loses Cambodians’ hearts

Two China-driven projects show striking contrasts. The newly opened Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has been well-received by Cambodians. But grand plans for Sihanoukville to be an investment hub and “multi-purpose” city have instead seen Chinese businesses crowding out locals, a boom-bust cycle in construction and illicit trades.
Local people are seen on their vehicles as they get stuck in traffic while the VIP convoys pass during the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 3 August 2022. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

China: Needed but not well-loved in Cambodia

Cambodian commentator Sokvy Rim explains why recent Chinese immigrants in Cambodia are viewed with suspicion and even some dislike despite major Chinese investment flows in Cambodia and related economic benefits.
Soldiers fire 155mm howitzers during an annual live fire military exercise in Pingtung, Taiwan, 9 August 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

SEA's great power 'neutrality' risks being pro-China and anti-US

Susannah Patton, director of the Southeast Asia Program at Lowy Institute, asserts that though they seem to be taking a neutral stance, many Southeast Asian countries’ responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasing US-China tensions on Taiwan have in fact affirmed narratives that are implicitly more critical of the US and other G7 countries. This may help to shape a regional environment that is far too permissive of aggression and coercion — the precise scenario that the countries hope to avoid.
Local residents ride past pro-Taiwan independence flags in Taipei, Taiwan, on 6 August 2022. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

The 'one China' policy of Southeast Asian countries

Academic Ngeow Chow Bing takes stock of the "one China" policy of Southeast Asian countries, noting changes in interpretations over the years and their subtle differences from China's "one China" principle and the US's "one China" policy. He warns that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has exacerbated cross-strait tensions and could further limit Taiwan's international space in Southeast Asia.
Almost all signboards in the Cambodian city of Sihanoukville are in Chinese. (Kwong Kai Chung/SPH Media)

The revival of Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s ‘Gold Rush’ city

In this fourth instalment of a seven-part Lianhe Zaobao-Business Times series on China and ASEAN, we look at the role of Chinese investors in the rise, fall and recovery of Cambodia’s Sihanoukville province.
Balconies at a compound in Sihanoukville are covered with iron grilles to prevent escapes.

Chinese scam rings in Cambodia drawing recruits from Southeast Asia

Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies, but it has also become a hotbed of Chinese telecoms and online scams targeted at mainland Chinese in recent years. Most of the scam rings based in Sihanoukville recruit mainland Chinese, but have also started to bring in Chinese from Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Once duped into joining their firms, these workers are trapped and forced to work as online scammers. Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim visited Sihanoukville in May to get a better picture.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen participates in the US-ASEAN Special Summit at the US State Department in Washington, DC, on 13 May 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

Cambodia’s surprisingly hardline stance on the Ukraine war

Cambodia’s hearty relations with Russia means that it should have taken a less strident view of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine. Intriguingly, Phnom Penh’s position has tacked closer to Western critics of the Kremlin. Not only did Cambodia support the UNGA's resolution to condemn Russia, but it also co-sponsored it. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has also said he is not afraid to anger Moscow.
Theary Seng, a US-Cambodian lawyer and activist who is facing treason and incitement charges, poses in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court ahead of her hearing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 3 May 2022. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Why Cambodia is leaning towards China and not the US

Sokvy Rim explains why Cambodia’s foreign policy options have been constrained by the leaders’ concerns of regime survival at various stages of its history. If this trajectory continues, it may be hard for it to conduct a hedging strategy in its relations between China and the US.
Lion dance heads are displayed at a temple in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 21 January 2022. (Cindy Liu/Reuters)

Cambodians welcome yet are wary of the new Chinese

The new Chinese of Cambodia, namely Chinese migrants who arrived in the country after the 1990s, have reinfornced the dominance of the ethnic Chinese in Cambodia's politico-economic order. The findings of a preliminary online survey of 100 respondents conducted in February 2022 show that Cambodians generally perceive the new Chinese positively but social tensions between Cambodians and the new Chinese are high as well.