“Belt and Road” initiatives bring benefits to Cambodia
Chinese President Xi Jinping(L) shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, Oct. 13, 2016. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)
Tremendous infrastructure insufficiency is impeding economic growth in Cambodia and preventing it from attracting badly needed investment. Accelerating infrastructure construction, especially transportation infrastructure construction, has become one of the most imperative demands of the Cambodian government and people. But it is difficult for Cambodia to realize that on its own. “‘One Belt, One Road’ initiatives give Cambodia hope,” said Sok Chenda, Minister attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary General , Council for the Development of Cambodia, in an interview with Guangming Daily.
Cambodia boasts a very good location in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and Great Mekong Sub-region, but over 28 percent of Cambodians remain poor for various historical reasons. Agriculture is still Cambodia’s core economic pillar, while its industries remain weak. Sok Chenda said that Cambodia is facing a big problem when developing economy,that is lack of funds in infrastructure construction like roads, bridges, ports and power grids.
“Belt and Road” initiatives will enhance infrastructure construction in countries along the “Belt and Road”, and promote their economic and social progress as well as interconnection among these countries. Cambodia is deeply convinced that it will get more concessional loans from Chinese government as well as support from the “Belt and Road” fund so as to facilitate fast economic and social progress at home.
Cambodia’s “Quadrangle Strategy” for socio-economic development can also be interlinked with China’s “Belt and Road” initiatives, said Sok Chenda. It’s necessary for Cambodia to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation and interconnection with surrounding countries as well as other countries in the region so as to develop its economy. Cambodia and China has been in friendly cooperation in infrastructure construction for many years. For instance, Chinese companies have helped Cambodia build six hydropower stations that provide power to cities including Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. Cambodia and China Road and Bridge Corporation are preparoffing for building the first expressway in Cambodia, which will greatly boost Cambodian economic development. Cambodia’s national optical fiber communication network program is also being built by a Chinese company, which will become a network of telecommunications and information highways in 21st century Cambodia.
Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism of Cambodia, shared his views on “Belt and Road” initiatives from another angle. “Over the past few decades, Cambodia has enjoyed fine domestic situation that is good for developing tourism. We are very grateful for the win-win and all-win ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping. If every country along the ‘’Belt and Road” can actively and sincerely participate in the initiatives, it will become a prosperous economic belt and peaceful new Silk Road, and each participating country will benefit from it,” said Thong Khon.
Thong Khon also said that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) proposed by China is a significant measure to promote infrastructure development, and Cambodia will benefit directly from it. “We are developing tourism, so we hope more and more Chinese companies come to invest in Cambodia. Building roads and other infrastructures will directly benefit ordinary people. With more and more tourists coming to Cambodia, we hope that tourism can create 800,000 jobs by 2020, becoming a significant driver of our economy,” said Thong Khon. He introduced that the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia plans to attract 1 million Chinese tourists to visit Cambodia by the end of 2017, and 2 million by 2020.
Thong Khon said, the “Belt and Road” initiatives promoted China-Cambodia cooperation and common development in tourism and will further deepen people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. Cambodia’s fast economic development over the past few years would not have been possible without China’s help. Cambodia sincerely welcomes Chinese guests and wishes for long-term friendship between the two countries and peoples.
By Ma Yongyou, reporter of Guangming Daily in Bangkok, Thailand
Translated by Zhang Zhou[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]