Cambodia inaugurates a new airport near Angkor Wat, funded by China, aiming to boost tourism and economic ties between the two countries.
New Airport Serving Angkor Wat
The newly inaugurated Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport in Cambodia, financed by Chinese investors, is designed to be an improved entry point for tourists visiting the historic Angkor Wat temple complex.
Key Features and Future Plans
The airport sits on 700 hectares of land, about 25 miles east of Angkor Wat, with a 11,810-foot long runway and a capacity to accommodate 7 million passengers yearly. There are plans to expand its capacity to 12 million passengers annually by 2040.
Significance of the Inauguration
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian, and other dignitaries. Hun Manet highlighted the need for the new airport, stating that the proximity of the old airport to the Angkor temples posed potential risks to the site.
Impact on Cambodian Tourism
Tourism is a crucial economic driver for Cambodia, and the new airport is expected to contribute to the revival of the tourism sector, especially in the Siem Reap province, which hosts the renowned Angkor Wat complex.
Chinese Influence on Cambodian Economy
China’s role as a key ally and investor in Cambodia is underscored by its significant economic influence, with a substantial share of the country’s foreign debt owed to China. The strong bilateral ties are manifested through various Chinese-funded projects and infrastructure development in Cambodia.
Financing and Belt and Road Initiative
The construction of the airport, funded by Angkor International Airport (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. This project, along with other Chinese-funded endeavors, aims to enhance global connectivity and trade, reflecting China’s vision of modern Silk Road trading routes.
Future Plans for Phnom Penh Airport
In addition to the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, another significant Chinese-funded airport project is underway in the capital, Phnom Penh. The Techo International Airport is set to be completed in 2024, with an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.