A co-written article published as a working paper in the Pacific Forum.
By Sovinda Po and Kimkong Heng
The past several years have seen an unprecedented inflow of Chinese investments to Cambodia, resulting in a huge increase in the number of Chinese people in this Asian country. Chinese investment projects have previously been concentrated in the Cambodian capital city, Phnom Penh, but the focus has recently been shifted to Sihanoukville, a coastal province of Cambodia. The growing presence of the Chinese, many of whom are business people and migrant workers in Sihanoukville, has brought concerns about potential impacts resulting from Chinese investment projects. Although positive impacts in terms of infrastructure development and job opportunities are apparent, Chinese investments have created numerous issues that have made headlines across various media outlets, both national and international. This analysis aims to assess the impacts of Chinese investment in Cambodia by drawing on data in the form of new reports, commentaries, analyses, and articles published on different media platforms and in academic journals. Taking Sihanoukville as a case study, the analysis shows that, despite economic benefits, Chinese investments have significant negative impacts on Cambodia as a host country of foreign direct investment. Four dimensions of the impact, including political, socio-cultural, environmental, and socio-economic are discussed. The analysis concludes with ways forward for Cambodia and China to ensure that positive rather than negative outcomes are the consequences of Chinese investments in Cambodia.