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Cambodia-China relations: a positive-sum game?

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Heng, Pheakdey

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Abstract China has re-emerged to become a dominant foreign player in Cambodia. Politically, Cambodia is one of China’s oldest and closest allies. Economically, China is Cambodia’s top foreign investor, a major donor, and an increasingly important trading partner. Culturally, Chinese values are deeply embedded in many aspects of Cambodian society. However, China’s dominance is surrounded by renewed controversies. While the government warmly welcomes Chinese aid, saying that it comes with no strings attached, many experts are concerned that China is providing aid for more nefarious reasons. Critics also accuse Chinese investment and aid of having exacerbated corruption, weakened governance and harmed human rights, and of ruining Cambodia’s natural resources and environment. With such controversies, it is relevant and significant to assess the roles that China has played and continues to play in Cambodia’s socio-economic development. Using expert interviews, media analysis and an extensive literature review, this paper uniquely contributes to the existing discussion on China–Cambodia relations by closely examining the controversies of China’s investment and aid, critically analysing China’s interests in Cambodia, and asking if the relationship between the two nations is a positive-sum game.
Keywords China; Cambodia; international relations; bilateral relations; economic relations; economic development (on national level); foreign investment; foreign policy; pressure-group politics; Southeast Asia; international economics; investment policy; human rights; environmental damage
Classification International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy
Method descriptive study
Free Keywords ODA; FDI; controversy; 1960-2010; qualitative judgmental sampling
Document language English
Publication Year 2012
Page/Pages p. 57-85
Journal Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 31 (2012) 2
ISSN 1868-4882
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works