Just a brief round-up of some of the events that caught my eye this week, more on Sino-Cambodian relations soon.
- The Chinese-Cambodian Council is making excellent progress on the construction of is new headquarters, with significant donations coming in from throughout the local community. So far, a total of USD 2.6 million has been raised. Announced at an event earlier this week the council's primary focus over the coming year is the expansion of Chinese language programs and increasing the number of Chinese language teachers in Cambodia, as PRC-based firms have experienced personnel issues owing to the continued lack of adequate supply of Mandarin speakers in the kingdom. A study examining the issue was recently completed by the Cambodia-China Education Fund. Somewhat surprising, the massive expansion in Chinese language education seen across Cambodia over the last decade.
- @Cambodia Daily had an excellent piece discussing the size of China's aid contribution to Cambodia earlier this week. It's worth quoting the relevant portion of the article in full: "
"About 70 percent of roads and bridges in Cambodia have been funded by China, with loans for their financing adding up to about $2 billion, government-affiliated Fresh News reported the transport minister as saying on Friday. Minister Sun Chanthol was accepting mechanical equipment donated to Cambodia by the regional superpower when he said that over 2,000 km of roads across the country and seven major bridges had been constructed with Chinese funds ..."
This comes at the same time as the Henan (not a province exactly known for having cash to spare), specifically the Henan Transport Investment group has made a significant donation of road repair and maintenance equipment, and providing training to roughly 20 staff of the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works.
TECO (the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office) in Ho Chi Minh City, the de facto consulate for Taiwan covering both Vietnam and Cambodia continues to protest the detention and deportation of their nationals to China as part of a recent telecommunications fraud. As always, we are impressed by Taiwan's deep commitment to classical liberal values and individual rights and wish them well; although we are not so optimistic as to the outcome.
"One Belt, One Road" seems to be expanding out into much more than an economic and political initiative, taking aim at resolving one of Beijing's long term weaknesses: soft power, particularly in the form of cultural issues. This week we saw various charitable and performing arts groups from the Hong Kong SAR visit Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, organized by the Sino-Cambodian International Commission and several cultural organizations based in HK.
Air travel between Cambodia and China continues to grow, with approximately 155 flights operating per week - meshing with the rising PRC tourist numbers - although the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism remains consistent on its estimates of 2 million mainland visitors per year by 2020.
His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni gave an audience to Ms. Liu Qingcheng of the International Association of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises this week. His Majesty stated with regard to Sino-Cambodian relations: "There has been a long, solid history of friendship between Cambodia and China, like a never withering flower, always open under a clear sky." So, good times ahead it seems.
The Minister of Public Information of Zhejiang province led a reasonably large delegation to Cambodia last week, organized by the Zhejiang Chamber of Commerce. The delegation held a series of meetings with local, Khmer language media outlets and signed a MOU to launch "Beautiful Zhejiang" television week. The delegation also made a small donation of technological equipment to the government of Siem Reap province.