Preah Sihanouk governor Kuoch Chamroeun said that thanks to the government’s Rectangular Strategy Phase IV and China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), the coastal province has the pleasure of hosting many Chinese tourists to its islands and beaches, as well as investors. It has also established sister-province ties with 17 provinces and cities in China.

Chamroeun paid a courtesy call on Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Nong Rong, who is leading a delegation to visit the province, at the Chinese Consulate in Preah Sihanouk on April 22.

“The government has designated Preah Sihanouk as a Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone. Twenty-five thousand people are currently employed in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone [SSEZ], so it has been a success.

“In addition, Prime Minister Hun Sen is scheduled to attend the inauguration of the first car tyre factory in the province next month. The $300 million project will be a cutting-edge industrial operation that will employ more than 1,500 people,” he said, referring to the venture of General Tires Technology (Cambodia) that broke ground on a 28ha plot in the SSEZ early last year.

Chamroeun described the many attractions that are available to Chinese tourists to Nong, including casinos and modern hotels. He explained that the hospitality sector is growing, with many Chinese investors providing jobs and high salaries to young Cambodians.

He acknowledged that international tourist numbers had not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but noted that domestic tourism is booming.

“In addition, there are two companies investing in two large coal-fired power plants with a capacity of up to 1,300 megawatts, enough that the province will be able to distribute electricity to other provinces during the summer,” he added.

During the meeting, Nong noted that Preah Sihanouk authorities had deepened China-Cambodia cooperation, and expressed his pleasure that the province was flourishing thanks to the consensus between the leaders of the two nations.

He recalled Hun Sen’s February visit to China, where he met with President Xi Jinping. The two countries agreed to develop a “diamond cooperation framework” with six priority areas, focusing on the development of Preah Sihanouk and playing an important role in promoting cooperation.

“The achievements of Preah Sihanouk confirm the value of future cooperation between China and Cambodia. I am pleased to hear that the prime minister has visited the province many times to attend the inauguration of many Chinese investment projects, and will do so again next month,” he said.

“Preah Sihanouk has a deep-water port, an airport and an expressway, all of which make it ideal for industrial and economic development,” he added.

He noted that he and his delegation had visited a large garment factory in the SSEZ during their trip, and that the investment process appeared to be running smoothly, thanks to the support of the provincial governor.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) – the Kingdom’s apex trade body – on April 23 commented that China-Cambodia relations are rapidly improving. The CCC recently welcomed a delegation from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, highlighting the favourable trade and investment conditions between the two.

He added that new opportunities for Chinese investors to invest in the Kingdom include the bilateral Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the BRI and the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC).

“Preah Sihanouk has received a lot of interest from Chinese investors. The state and its leadership have facilitated a lot of these inquiries, along with the CCC, which represents the private sector but partners with the government. This way, we are able to address the challenges of the private sector and promoting business and investment activities.

“I urge any Chinese investors who are facing challenges or looking for legitimate investment partners to contact the CCC,” he said.