Workshop on Overview and Outlook of Cooperation Between China and Cambodia under Belt and Road Initiative

Organized by the East Asia Research Center under the
Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace
Date: 22 June, 2017
Venue: The Cambodiana Hotel, Phnom Penh

 
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was launched in 2013, is a game changer of global economy- and even global geopolitocs. BRI is a powerful shaper of a new global order. It also creates a wave against re-emerging de-globalization sentiment that caused by protectionism and-to some extent- populism and transactional politics. BRI, alhough it was proposed by China, is now a global common goods. It belongs to everyone, particularly the countries that are engaged in concretizing the initiative. We are all the stakeholders and owners of BRI.
 
Intra-regional and inter-regional connectivity is to be improved under BRI. Political trust, mutual learning, mutual respect, and mutual interests are the foundations of cooperation under the framework of BRI. No country is willing to impose ideas or policies on other countries. Every country shares an equal say in collectively designing and implementing BRI’s projects. Collective leadership for a shared opportunity is the philosophy of BRI. Sustainable and inclusive development is the vision of BRI.
 
BRI is compatible with ASEAN community building and Cambodia’s development strategy, particularly in infrastructure connectivity. There are three main sources of funding for BRI’s projects, namely the Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and BRICS Development Bank. At the recent Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China pledged extra funding to boost the realization of BRI. Nevertheless, these sources of funding are not sufficient. Public-private partnership needs to be strengthened. The private sector has a key role to play in mobilzing financial resources for a sound investment.
 
At the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation last month, President Xi Jinping highlighed peace and cooperation, openness and inclusivess, mutual learning, and mutual benefit. In the past four years, BRI has delivered some concrete results: policy connecity has been deepened, infrastructure connectivity has been enhanced, trade connectivity has been increased, financial connectivity has been expanded, and people-to-people connectiviyt has been strengthened. The principles of BRI are to build a road for peace, prosperity, opening up, innovation, and connecting different civilizations.
 

In the coming three years, China will provide assistance worth RMB 60 billion to developing countries and international organizations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to launch more projects to improve people's well-being. We will provide emergency food aid worth RMB 2 billion to developing countries along the Belt and Road and make an additional contribution of US$1 billion to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation. China will launch 100 "happy home" projects, 100 poverty alleviation projects and 100 health care and rehabilitation projects in countries along the Belt and Road. China will provide relevant international organizations with US$1 billion to implement cooperation projects that will benefit the countries along the Belt and Road.

 

Economic determinants define Cambodian perceptions of and approach towards BRI. Cambodia is one of the most supportive of BRI due to the fact that economic opportunities generated from the initiative are believed to be tremendous. Every country stands to benefit from the BRI- of course at different level depending their participation. Institutional capacity, leadership, and human capital will define which country gain more. Opportunities are there; it now depends on how quick and smart Cambodia can do to leverage bilateral trust with China, strengthen its governance and leadership to grasp the opportunities.

 

The workshop will bring together Cambodian and Chinese experts and scholars to address the opportunities and challenges in implementing BRI in Cambodia. The participants of this workshop are invited to deliberate on several important questions related to: (1) Why does BRI matter for China and Cambodia? What are the opportunities? What are the constrains? How to overcome these obstacles? How to maximize the benefits generated by BRI? How should Cambodia and China work together to synergize BRI with Cambodian development objective?