Tuesday April 16, 2024

The Star

The latest China-funded infrastructure project in Washington’s crosshairs is a proposed canalnear the Mekong river in Cambodia.

The US is urging greater transparency from Cambodia over a planned US$1.7 billion canal that observers say could be used to bolster China’s military presence in the South-East Asian nation, posing a potential security threat to regional neighbors like Vietnam.

Spanning some 180 kilometers (111.85 miles) from Phnom Penh to the coastal province of Kep, construction on the the Techo Funan Canal is slated to begin later this year after the state-owned China Bridge and Road Corporation landed a deal to develop it during a Belt and Road Initiative summit last October.

“The Cambodian people – along with people in neighboring countries and the broader region – would benefit from transparency on any major undertaking with potential implications for regional water management, agricultural sustainability, and security,” Wesley Holzer, public diplomacy officer at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, wrote in response to questions from Bloomberg regarding the project.

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