Cambodia

People walk along the riverside in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on 19 November 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Is Chinese support the main reason for Cambodia's success with pandemic control?

Cambodia, a lower-middle-income country, has enjoyed relative success in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Approximately 88% of the entire Cambodian population has been vaccinated, which makes it ranked 6th globally and only behind Singapore in ASEAN. Some have credited Cambodia’s success as a result of Chinese support, but academic Bradley Murg thinks that many other reasons are just as important.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen (second from right) gestures as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (centre, left) looks on as they attend a handover ceremony of the Morodok Techo National Stadium, funded by China's grant aid under its Belt and Road Initiative, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 12 September 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/Pool/AFP)

How China became Cambodia's important ally and largest donor

While Cambodia is aware that its close relations with China may leave it vulnerable in many ways, it seems to think that this is still the better bet in light of shaky relations with the US and a historical distrust of Vietnam.
A view of part of the Laos-China Railway under construction in Vientiane, Laos, 5 July 2021. (CNS)

BRI projects in Cambodia and Laos roll on despite Covid-19

The pandemic has affected BRI projects, but China has swiftly taken measures to keep BRI projects going by ensuring financial flow and supply of materials, so that key BRI projects in Cambodia and Laos are not much affected. Through the BRI, China’s economic presence and influence in Southeast Asia will continue to rise, while Cambodia and Laos will continue to rely more on China for their economic development.
A woman walks past a closed shop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 25 June 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Is Cambodia overly dependent on China?

Sokvy Rim warns Cambodia against being over-reliant on China. As the saying goes, there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. As the US did in the past with policies that contributed to the rise of the Pol Pot regime, China could abandon Cambodia or take actions against its interests. What would Cambodia do then?
A garment factory worker receives China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine at an industrial park in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 7 April 2021. (Cindy Liu/Reuters)

China's efficient delivery of vaccines to Southeast Asia

As Southeast Asian countries look for Covid-19 vaccines to protect their populations, two things matter: reliability and availability. For now, China — rather than Western sources — ticks the correct boxes.
Morning commuters wearing face masks, amidst concerns about the Covid-19 coronavirus, ride past in Hanoi on 4 May 2021. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Southeast Asia: A hotspot for Chinese enterprises in the post-pandemic era?

With growing competition and tension between China and the US, one region that China is looking to is Southeast Asia. Many major Chinese companies are expanding their operations into ASEAN countries, using them as manufacturing and assembly bases or springboards to the region. Zaobao's associate foreign news editor Sim Tze Wei examines the possibilities.
Workers load boxes with Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac on a truck, the first shipment vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to arrive in the country, at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, 28 February 2021. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

Covid-19 pandemic and China's rising soft power in mainland Southeast Asia

The Covid-19 pandemic provides a window of opportunity for China to exert its international leadership and influence. It has managed to turn the crisis into a diplomatic and strategic opportunity in mainland Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Public health diplomacy has become one of the key sources of China’s soft power projection, enhancing China’s image and influence. Cambodia and Laos have been most receptive to China’s public health diplomacy, including its vaccine diplomacy, while Thailand and Myanmar also have welcomed Chinese assistance. But Vietnam has been reluctant to endorse China’s Covid-19 assistance, including receiving Chinese vaccines.
A food delivery motorist rides on a street as deliveries rise due to lockdown restrictions introduced to try to halt a surge in cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Phnom Penh on 26 April 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Japan passes China in the sprint to win Cambodian hearts and minds

Since 2010, Japan’s foreign policy toward Cambodia includes a new geopolitical dimension of balancing China’s influence in Cambodia, including strategies such as non-interference in Cambodia’s domestic affairs and providing development assistance that aligns with the Cambodian government’s development plan, focusing on infrastructure, human capital development, and agriculture. Japan has been relatively successful given the Cambodian population’s mixed reactions to China’s engagement in Cambodia. And it seems that Cambodia will continue to benefit from Japan's balancing-China strategy, as long as China-Japan rivalry stays manageable.   
People wait at a traffic light on a street in Phnom Penh on 11 January 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Confucius Institutes accepted in SEA and embraced by Cambodia, unlike in the West

China’s Confucius Institutes have been vilified in the West, but they have gained much traction in Cambodia. This is not surprising, given that Cambodia is one of China's closest allies in Southeast Asia. ISEAS visiting fellow Vannarith Chheang explains why.