"Old" and "New" Chinese Business in Cambodia’s Capital

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About the Publication

China’s influence over economic and political affairs in Cambodia is undisputed. It is the biggest investor in Cambodia, adding nearly US$5.3 billion between 2013 and 2017, especially into real estate development, the garment industry and the tourism sector. 

For Phnom Penh’s SMEs, “new” Chinese migrants are an increasingly important clientele, and raw materials, machinery, consumer goods and capital from Greater China have been vital resources. At the same time, they face competition from entrepreneurs from China entering the Cambodian market.  

For Cambodia’s elite entrepreneurs, known as oknha, China is an export destination for Cambodian timber and cash crops, and “new” Chinese investments provide business opportunities in the form of construction contracts and joint ventures in real estate and tourism development, industrial parks or the energy sector. 

Recent Chinese investments and migrants have reinforced Cambodia’s established politico-economic order, which is characterized by ethnic Chinese economic dominance as well as a divide between the business-state elite and the general population.

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