Cambodia-China bilateral relations have both traditional roots and economic interest foundation. To develop the country’s infrastructure, Cambodia has been looking for different sources of grants and loans. Now China is the biggest donor to Cambodia. With the current state of about $3 billion loan and grant provided from China, Cambodia is now applying for Chinese loan of about $500 million on an annual basis.
There are some concerns among the local observers here that it is risky for Cambodia to depend so much on China. In the meantime, some observers argue that Cambodia can develop faster with Chinese support. China will be a big market for and also source of foreign direct investment to Cambodia. By maintaining close relations with China, Cambodia can play a more important role regionally and globally.
The current Cambodian administration seems to be very confident that China is the most reliable and trustworthy friend. China can strengthen Cambodian independence. The rationale behind this perception and approaches can be explained through level of trust and personal relationship.
It is probably still too early to have any judgment regarding the future of Cambodia’s foreign policy towards China. One thing certain is China is a big elephant in the room.