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China Announces New ASEAN Belt & Road Initiative Projects Centered Around Cambodia

The 2022 ASEAN summit took place at the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, this past weekend, with China as an official guest. At the event, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced Beijing’s approval of Chinese investment in significant infrastructure projects in the ASEAN region.

Among these is a US$1.6 billion expressway to be built from Phnom Penh to Bavet, at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, and financial support for a rail link between Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and Vientiane, Laos, from which a high-speed rail link has already been constructed into China.

Sun Chanthol, the Cambodian Public Works and Transport Minister, said during the signing ceremony that the Phnom Penh expressway would link up with Vietnam’s expressway between Ho Chi Minh City and the Moc Bai border gate with Bavet, providing direct access via highway between the Cambodian and Vietnamese capitals.

Both this and the rail link are expected to be completed by the end of 2026 or early 2027, Sun said, and form a vital link with Asian Highway 1, connecting China through Myanmar to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

“The expressway will be 138 kilometers long, with one long bridge,” Sun said. “The estimated cost is just a little less than that of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, though its length is shorter.”
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