Bangkok, January 16, 2018
China is shoring up its sphere of influence in Southeast Asia through aid and investment. By funding infrastructure and development, China can increase its economic and strategic leverage over poorer neighbors.
Last week, China and Cambodia signed 19 agreements during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s meeting in Phnom Penh with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that will heavily increase Chinese investment in Cambodia.
The deals included the construction of a highway linking Phnom Penh with the port city Sihanoukville and an expansion of the capital’s international airport. Deals were also signed to build Cambodia’s first communication satellite and for “rice trade,” the Phnom Penh Post reported.
Over the past few years, China’s influence in the Mekong region has increased significantly. Beijing is the largest foreign investor in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and has strengthened its presence in Thailand.