Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday that the Asian giant is committed to further supporting the development of Preah Sihanouk, with the investment pouring in to contribute heavily to the Kingdom’s economic growth.
The commitment has been welcomed as a boost for Chinese investor confidence, with the province’s development to become a model for other countries.
The pledge came during a bilateral meeting with Li at the 35th Asean Summit in the Thai capital Bangkok, Hun Sen posted on his official Facebook page.
“The Chinese Premier said he supported all the investment projects in Preah Sihanouk province, with both countries to discuss [development], especially regarding grants to further develop Preah Sihanouk province,” Hun Sen said.
The prime minister suggested that the 5th Cambodia-China Inter-Government Committee Meeting be held in Preah Sihanouk province before the end of the year, while Li said China supported meeting for talks on funding.
Provincial tourism department director Taing Sochet Kresna told The Post on Monday that the commitment from both leaders on the development of Preah Sihanouk reflected the flow of Chinese investment into the coastal province in recent years.
“The commitment made by Li Keqiang will improve Chinese confidence in investing in Preah Sihanouk province.
“The large amount of Chinese investment here has contributed to improvements in the people’s standards of living and an increase in the number of tourists.
“The number of flights has increased from around just 10 per day in 2016 to 40 a day today,” Sochet Kresna said.
He said there is presently heavy Chinese investment in the hotel and entertainment industry and supermarkets.
Mey Kalyan, the senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council, said the strengthening of ties between Cambodia and China has been key to building confidence among Chinese investors.
“I believe the strong relationship between Cambodia and China is very important to attract foreign direct investment from China. Cambodia has received great benefits from such economic development.
“The commitment made by the two leaders to support investments in Preah Sihanouk shows that development in the province will be well planned and for the long-term, with China able to use it as a model for development in many other countries,” Kalyan stressed.
In March, construction officially started on the new expressway stretching more than 190km from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province. It is slated to cost some $1.9 billion, with the China Road and Bridge Corporation providing a grant for the project.
Official data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance said China invested some $14.7 billion in Cambodia from 1994 to 2016. From 1993 to the end of 2017, Cambodia had signed concessional loan agreements with development partners to the tune of $9.6 billion.
The government has borrowed around $6.3 billion from various countries, of which $4.05 billion is from China.
Latest figures released by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) show that the government approved some $5.2 billion in investment in the first half of this year.
The figure is an increase of 48.5 per cent in the same period last year. Local investors accounted for 68.4 per cent of total investment, while those from China made up 25.4 per cent.
This year, the Cambodian and Chinese governments agreed to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement in Preah Sihanouk province as well.