Projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have been greatly boosting Cambodia’s economy and improving local people’s livelihoods, Cambodian officials and experts said.
Large BRI projects in the South-East Asian country include the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, hydropower plants, Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, new Siem Reap International Airport, Morodok Techo National Stadium, roads and bridges, hospitals, and rural water supply among others.
“These projects have provided and will continue to provide a lot of tangible benefits to the economy and people of Cambodia,” Vasim Sorya, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told Xinhua.
“The BRI projects here are sincere with no strings attached, and their aim is to help boost our socio-economic development and improve our people’s livelihoods,” he said.
Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, all BRI projects in the kingdom have made headway steadily, Sorya said, giving an example of the construction work on the US$2-billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway.
Begun in 2019, the project is expected to be fully finished on schedule this year, he said, adding that it has generated more than 3,000 jobs for Cambodians during the construction.
“The 190-km expressway is the largest project under the BRI in Cambodia, and it will add a new impetus to Cambodia’s economic development since it links the capital Phnom Penh with the international deep-water seaport in Sihanoukville,” he said.
The 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 on and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.