ㄑ Belt and Road ㄑ Opinion

Scholar: China's BRI boosts infrastructure development, trade, investment in Cambodia

Xinhua | September 1, 2023

China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has played a crucial role in helping develop Cambodia's infrastructure and connectivity, which are the key components to support trade and attract investment, a Cambodian scholar said on Thursday.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, a think-tank under the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said under the BRI, China has supported a number of mega-projects in Cambodia, such as national roads, river bridges, expressways, hydropower plants, special economic zones, airports, ports, and a main stadium.

"These large-scale projects have greatly contributed to promoting connectivity, securing the sustainable source of electricity supply, enhancing economic competitiveness, diversifying sources of growth, and reducing logistics costs in Cambodia," he told Xinhua.

Phea said the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), a flagship project in Cambodia under the BRI, has created tens of thousands of jobs for locals and contributed to boosting the kingdom's export growth.

"Since the cooperation projects under the BRI were launched a decade ago, trade and investment relations between Cambodia and China have reached new heights," he said.

"The BRI, together with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Cambodia-China free trade agreement (FTA), will help Cambodia achieve its visions of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050," he added.

BRI, a reference to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was initiated by China in 2013 to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

Over the past decade, over 150 countries and more than 30 international organizations have signed documents under the BRI framework, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Aug. 4.

Phea said the BRI has brought tremendous advantages to all participating countries and has become a long-term strategy to promote intra-regional and inter-regional connectivity and cooperation in all areas, such as infrastructure, connectivity, economy, investment, finance, and people-to-people exchanges.

"The BRI is an effective shaper of a new global order, and it is a new global force of peace, security, stability, development, prosperity, and harmony," he said.

The scholar added that the BRI has been seen as a global initiative that will build a silk road of peace toward economic globalization that is vibrant, more open, more stable, and more sustainable.