Chinese investments in Cambodia are win-win-lose, and guess who’s the loser

Letter to the Phnom Penh Post
30 April 2018

Editor,

Following The Post’s article titled Hun Sen comes to China’s defence, praises investment and development aid (April 26), I would like to make the following remarks.

The main problem with Chinese investments is their complete lack of transparency, which favours corruption among both Chinese investors and Cambodian government officials. These investments generally consist of “win-win-lose” arrangements, with the Cambodian people being the silent loser.

Foreign investments are expected to create jobs in the host country, which is not the case for Chinese investments in Cambodia because the needed workers are brought from China, where a portion of the money from the “investments” therefore returns. Moreover, transfer of technologies – another benefit normally associated with foreign direct investment – does not exist.

With the import of Chinese labour, no Cambodian workers are trained to acquire professional skills and there is no opportunity to develop the human resources the country badly lacks, as pointed out by Prime Minister Hun Sen himself as an excuse for the omnipresence of Chinese workers. The Hun Sen government is therefore developing a vicious circle that maintains Cambodia in ignorance, poverty and dependence.

We often notice that, when dealing with Hun Sen’s Cambodia, China generously gives with one hand but greedily takes back with the other immediate and disproportionate advantages in the form of mining, forest and land concessions as well as lucrative risk-free business contracts, for example in the production of hydroelectricity.

Massive Chinese tourism is organised around Chinese companies and the remaining money left in Cambodia hardly outweighs the ecological and social costs incurred by our country.

We know Hun Sen desperately needs China’s support to help defend and protect his regime because China does not pay any attention to the rule of law, democracy and human rights in countries where it “invests”. By recklessly siding with China just to cling on to power Hun Sen shows his economic shortsightedness and his lack of consideration for Cambodia’s interests.

Sam Rainsy

Read the letter on the website of the Phnom Penh Post

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