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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chinese engineer loves living in Cambodia

Chinese engineer loves living in Cambodia

Sun Yanqian.
A major player in Cambodia’s hydro-electric industry is Sun Yanqian, Deputy General Manager, Senior Engineer at China Huadian Corporation, one of China’s largest producers of electricity with over one billion megawatts generated through hydroelectric, coal, solar and wind power.

Trained as a civil engineer, Sun, 60, has carried out projects around the world and is enjoying his life developing Cambodia’s hydroelectric power projects.

His latest project is a 338 megawatt dam along the Stung River in Koh Kong province.  The project was initiated on April 1, 2010, and should be finished by the end of June, 2013.

About 20 per cent of the dam has been completed, although there were engineering difficulties in the soil, the power lines to Koh Kong and the road to the project have both been completed.

The $550 million project is being built according to a build, operate and transfer (BOT) agreement with a 4-year construction period and an operational period of 30 years before it is handed back to the Cambodian government.

“The sales price for the electricity is 7.35 cents per kilowatt hour,” Sun said.

The generating turbines will come from various factories in China, including Shanghai, Chengdu and Hangzhou.

The projected output of the plant is one billion kilowatt hours per year, according to Sun.  The dam itself is 110 metres tall and 100 metres wide. There are 4,000 workers on the project right now, with 50 per cent Cambodians and 50 per cent Chinese.

Sun has spent his last 15 years in Cambodia, arriving first to build the terminal at Sihanoukville Airport, but had to stop the project during the fighting in 1997.

He later supervised construction on Route 21 to Vietnam and also worked on a medicine factory in Phnom Penh.

He and his wife have one daughter who is a PhD researcher at one of China’s most famous and prestigious schools, The Rockefeller-established Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College.

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue, left, and Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Stung River Hydro-electric Project in Koh Kong.
Sun and his wife are very proud of her.

After earning a degree in civil engineering in 1980, Sun went to work for a design institute in Beijing and in 1983 was posted to a design institute in Yunnan province.

There, he worked in the field of  light industrial design for sugar factories, chemical and textile manufacturing.

After Yunnan, Sun was posted to Vang Vieng in where he built a cement factory in a joint venture between Laos and China, working there from 1990 to 1994,

After Laos, Sun was posted to Karachi, Pakistan, from 1994 to 1996 where he worked on a water project funded by the World Bank.

He did not enjoy his time in Pakistan because of some fighting and strict policies.

Sun’s next posting was in Mauritius, building the five-star  Louie Hotel at the sea port.

“We built the hotel for a South African company and we were in charge of construction. I liked it because it was peaceful and no fighting. Europeans go there for tourism,” he said.

Since 2004, Sun has been involved with the hydro power project in Koh Kong, starting with a feasibility study.

Sun also served as project manager on a power line project from Phnom Penh to Battambong.

The project began in 2007 and was completed in June this year.

From 2004 to 2007, Sun worked on the Stung Atay,  a 120 megawatts dam along the same river, that is scheduled for completion in 2013. Now he’s working on the larger sister project.
Sun loves living in Cambodia.

“I think Cambodia is the best for me.  I’m used to living here. In China it is a big country and it is not so easy to get things done. For example in Cambodia, I have a schedule, I can do many things easily.  But in Beijing it is not so easy to get so many things done,” he smiled.

Sun hopes some day to retire in Kunming in Yunnan province.

“I like Kunming because it is a smaller place and cooler with a 2,000 metre altitude,” he said.

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