Call Back

Leveraging BRI and China's Influence

  • 50 Pages
  • Published On: 20-11-2023

Introduction

There are debates about whether or not China’s One Belt Road (BRI) initiative is a contemporary expansion of the capitalist world system that involves the three phases of trade, industrial expansion and financial capitalism (Xing, 2018). The capitalist world system has absorbed many cultural systems into an integrated economic system. This system has been maintained through a fixed social, political and economic arrangement (Xing, 2018). The initiative is a strategy of China to go global started by President Xi Jinping through improving connectivity, trade and infrastructure from Asia to Europe. This initiative is conceptualised based on the ancient Silk Roads through the exchange of Chinese and European good in Central Asia. Garlick (2019) states that this initiative is taken sometimes as a response to the US Obama’s administration’s leaning towards Asia. He states that BRI comprises two strands. The first strand is the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) consisting of routes through Central Asia, Mongolia, Iran and Turkey. The second strand is the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), a sea route passing through South and Southeast Asia via the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean going towards the Middle East and Southern Europe (Garlick, 2019).

Cambodia supports BRI. China and Cambodia have 13 agreements governing infrastructure development, finance, production capacity, trade, maritime cooperation, and tourism under BRI. Cambodia considers BRI as a necessity for its economic development strategy and regional integration and connectivity (Chheang, 2017). Cheung and Hong (2018) observed that the two countries have always been in good relations. They had agreements on a political settlement regarding Cambodia’s long standing civil war conflicts. They stated that the relationship between the two countries in recent times has grown to a strategy comprising diplomatic, economic and political arrangement. In regard to the BRI initiative in 2013, Cambodia stands at a crucial juncture in relation to the Asian connectivity with Cambodia becoming a fast-growing member of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) (Cheung & Hong, 2018). In this light, this research will explore the changing political and economic environment in Cambodia due to the adoption of BRI. It will explore the extent of discretion that Cambodian government, in terms of its political strategy and economic policies, has while signing agreements under the BRI. These points are necessary to understand whether or not it may be appropriate to discuss changes in Cambodia political and economic strategy vis-à-vis strictly BRI by labelling China with an expansionist view.

Whatsapp

The issues raised above are necessary to start discussion around debates regarding how BRI has affected China-Cambodia political relations. On one hand, there is a view that the BRI initiative has led to breach of regulation when Chinese investors acquire licenses and business operations through the abuse of the legal system and disrupted the socio-political culture of Cambodia. The patron-client networks built due to the Chinese investor have captured investment operations, and simultaneously influenced regulatory institutions (Young, 2020). Due to this, there is a backlash by residents, opposition politicians, NGOs, and Western donors. The recent economic practice, thus, strives for economic win-win expectations (Han & Lim, 2021).

The economic policies of Cambodia favour the economic-driven practices, irrespective of its detriment to the socio-economic conditions of Cambodia. On the other hand, there is no denying that BRI has brought in high level investment in Cambodia. In this light, it is necessary to understand the strategies and policies of Cambodia as a host country in receiving BRI initiatives. Calabrese and Cao (2021) state receiving countries leverage BRI initiatives to achieve their objectives. Cambodia’s strategies are based upon the principle of diversification, expanding infrastructure financing and implementing the initiatives across partners (Calabrese & Cao, 2021). This research will attempt to analysis the exchanges between the two countries touching upon questions such as whether China’s aid and loan policies constitute a debt-trap or predatory strategy or whether it is Cambodia’s voluntary strategy to gain economically from China’s policies. In this light, this research will explore the possibility of a predatory diplomacy that China adopts in the form of its financial arrangements with Cambodia. It is alleged that for the economic booster that China provides, Cambodia is expected to return political patronage supporting China. In that light, such arguments seem to be justified in stating that China, through its financial diplomacy, is only concerned with expanding its economy, partnership, and security in the region and in the international arena. (The Asean Post, 2018; Woods, 2008; Heng & Po, 2017). This research will, however, go beyond this unidimensional arguments to exploring whether or not Cambodia gains its prioritised national objectives. It is also justified to argue that the best interest of Cambodia is achieved by its relation with China. BRI helps Cambodia and China Chen (2018) observed that Cambodia’s best interest is in the strategic relation with China and BRI helps the two synchronise their political and economic development priorities. In this context, it is necessary to understand how these strategies respond to the political setup of Cambodia and its relations with China. Such strategies must have relevant implications when it comes to interpreting and implementing BRI initiatives of China. Most literatures exploring China-Cambodia relationship including the BRI phase show a more inclination towards the unidimensional argument. The current research will explore the potential gaps in existing research and gaps in understanding the relationship between the two countries from the perspective of Cambodia and its economic and political gains from the relationship vis-à-vis BRI initiatives.

Research Question

With this main research question, this research touch upon a diverse range of issues related to China-Cambodia relation and any particular relationship trends associated with BRI. This is important to understand whether in fact China maintains its peaceful and joint development and coexistence with other countries found in its 2003 doctrine heping jueqi. Through this doctrine China portrays itself as avoiding an aggressive stance towards its political, economic and diplomatic approaches towards other countries (Arrighi, 2009; Bulard, 2005). This doctrine will be assessed in how the BRI projects are being conducted in Cambodia, particularly with arguments that the BRI projects do not clearly aims, financial basis, and structure of the projects (Rippa, 2020; Dwyer, 2020). Without a defined scope and context, investments are generally linked with BRI initiatives (Rippa, 2020; Dwyer, 2020). In that regard, the main research question will seek to explain any underlying expansionist objectives of China through the BRI initiatives or how the initiatives impact the China-Cambodia political relationship.

This research will have the following chapterisation in addition to this chapter of Introduction:

Chapter 2 - Literature Review : This chapter will explore the existing literature review in regard to the research question. It will explore how it is Cambodia’s strategy to support the BRI initiatives and how it has grounded rationales to do so. This chapter will explore arguments around the aligning of policies between the two countries touching upon a comparative discussion around the political economy adopted by the two countries in regard to BRI. It will discuss how the priority of Cambodia has shifted from just economic growth to its political role in the Southeast Asian region.

Chapter 2 will also assess the crucial place that economic interests occupy in the respective national interest. In that respect, it will analyse the extent of economic interest and strategy in determining the political decisions regarding the BRI initiatives. In further relevance, this research will analyse the free trade and liberal economic policy and the extent of its applicability in the China-Cambodia BRI relationship. While doing so, this chapter will discuss their relationship mentioning the concept of predatory diplomacy, the level of negotiation in dependent relation, and the aspect of consensual or unilateral conditionalities with respect to BRI initiatives.

Chapter 3 will discuss the research methodology that has been applied in finding the answer to the research question. This chapter will discuss the qualitative method of research applied to address the research question. It will discuss the mode and manner of how secondary data and information are reviewed, collected and analysed for the purposes of this research.

Chapter 4 will present the findings of literature review and discuss them from the aspects of the research question. This will discuss the findings in a manner touching upon a limited view of issues relevant with the research and also a comprehensive perspectives exploring the multi-layered relationship between China and Cambodia regarding the BRI initiatives

Chapter 5 will present a brief personal reflection by the researcher of this current research. It will present a summary of the findings as a conclusion of this research.

Literature Review

A realist approach to international political economy states that the aim of a state in a competitive business environment is to attain a surplus in trade balance. Not all states can achieve this. A state’s surplus will be another’s deficit. Such a policy approach involves a system of economic relations that will likely lead to a conflict. This view of the realist approach influences state policies (Smith, et al., 2014). In this light, could be it stated that Cambodia has attained the trade surplus as much as China through the BRI? If it has not, will it be right to state that China and Cambodia political-economic relation has not reached that stage where they would be in a conflict? Based on these perspectives, on one hand it could be stated that debates highlighting the negative impact of BRI on Cambodia represent that stage where both Cambodia and China have attained their trade surplus and their political economic relation is in a conflict. On the other hand, debates highlighting a progressive relationship between the two countries represent the stage where Cambodia has not attained its surplus of trade balance.

The World Bank (2019) conducted a study in regard to this BRI opportunity covering over 70 BRI countries. It found that the BRI initiatives have infrastructure and policy gaps that are detrimental to trade and foreign direct investment. Low income countries are poorly integrated in both the regional and international markets. The trade and investment policies are restrictive with fragmented trade agreements with lack of cross-regional integration. The simple effect is border delays and longer travel times. The World Bank further observed that BRI did not consider the cross-border cooperation properly when it comes to investment in transport infrastructure where countries individually decide investment strategy. Countries with higher risk of debt distress have increased external debt. This indicates high rising public debts. The BRI initiative did not deliver what was expected. They aimed to lower trade costs by expanding trade, reducing poverty and increasing foreign investment. However, this did not happen in all the BRI countries. If there are no policy reforms in BRI countries, BRI initiatives cannot deliver the goals (The World Bank, 2019).

The World Bank found that the lack of transparency in the investment projects exposes countries to risk of debts. For example, there is no clarity on awarding projects to Chinese companies, which is the case in most BRI projects, This exposes countries to financial unsustainability (The World Bank, 2019). In this light, as Smith and colleagues (2014) observed, it must, however, be noted here that unlike the mercantilist view as above, the economic nationalist approach suggests that only a strong manufacturing capability can compete with a stronger state in economic, political and military senses. This may be interpreted in relevance to the research question in hand that Cambodia is in an infant stage where it cannot compete with China. This may favour the debate around the level of power and discretion that it possesses in terms of agreements involving BRI projects. Though, alternatively, a free trade argument could be made favouring the BRI. However, Smith and colleagues (2014) observed that the liberal ideas of free trade, as in the form of BRI, could not be applicable to the political relations between nation states. Instead of providing for the interests of all states, a free trade system will favour the most advanced manufacturing states, such as when Britain adopted protectionist measures instead of a free trade policy to achieve its dominance. In relevance with this research, the concerned analysis will be how the power is distributed between China and Cambodia that will determine their political relations and also potential conflicts in their relations. It is, thus, important to determine the economic power distributed between the two countries that will help assess the research question in hand. This could be examined by determining whether or not the deficiency observed by the World Bank above is found in Cambodia in respect to BRI initiatives.

2.1 Cambodia’s strategy supporting BRI has its well thought rationale

The close relation between the two nations could be seen in their political and economic relations. Cambodia-China long-term relations have recently been strengthened. Cambodia has strongly supported China at the regional and international stage (Heng & Po, 2017). This is seen when in 2012 Cambodia blocked an ASEAN joint communiqué favouring China over the issue of the South China Sea. Cambodia also fully supported Chinese initiatives, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and BRI initiative. In return, China in the form of recognising Cambodia’s support, has awarded Cambodia unconditional aid and loans worth millions of US dollars, and has contributed to its infrastructure development, economic growth and foreign direct investment and trade (Heng & Po, 2017). This is evident when in 2019 China pledged $588 million in aid to Cambodia for the year 2019 to 2021 (Reuters, 2019).

2.1.1 Aligning its policy with China

Since the BRI initiative, particularly the Maritime Silk Road, Cambodia is positioned as the most significant regional partner of China. They have a comprehensive strategic cooperation where all of Cambodia’s political and economic development are aligned with the regional economic strategy of China (Heng & Po, 2017). The relation between China and Cambodia dates back to ancient times. Their close relations started when Prince Norodom Sihanouk on July 19, 1958 recognised the People’s republic of China and a personal relationship between the Prince and the then Chinese Premier, Zhou Enlai developed (Sambath, 2018). The two countries have always maintained a friendly and co-operative relationship. They do not have any border problems. Chinese in Cambodia are socially highly regarded. Cambodia lies the heart of the Southeast Asia and it exercises neutralism, which China supports (Marsot, 1969). In recent decades, the ties between the two nations have strengthened with Chinese aid and investment in Cambodia pouring in. Since 1999, it appears that China has had influence over Cambodia and in return Cambodia has been receiving aid (Sambath, 2018). For example, in 1999 China gave US 200 millions in loans free of interest and USD 18.3 millions in guarantees. These aids and loans are invested in building physical infrastructures in Cambodia (Sambath, 2018).

The relations between the two countries seem to be projected as economic-driven relations. However, if evaluated properly, one could see what is expected by China out of Cambodia in return for all the financial help. As will be discussed in detail later, one example is Cambodia supported one-China principles. In the years following, China’s aid and investment increased. The year 2006 saw USD 17 millions loans for building internet network connections across countries in the Mekong region. The year 2007 saw China becoming Cambodia’s 3rd largest donor. The year 2009 saw China becoming Cambodia’s number 1 donor (Sambath, 2018). Sambath (2018) states that China has actively influenced Cambodia. This could be seen when in late 2008, after the USD 200 million aid was signed of road construction from Preah Vihear province to Kampong Thom Province, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodia gives prime importance to financial assistance from China (Sambath, 2018). That shows the close political relationship between the two countries, driven by the economic relations between them.

The situation presented above supports Chen’s (2018) observation that China’s aid to Cambodia became a tool for China to shape its political and economic strategy. At the same time it could also be the other way round where Cambodia sees China as a strategic partner that could give them economic and political advantage in the regional and world arena. In recent decades, before 1997, Cambodia and China had close diplomatic relations with low engagement. During the time from 1994 to 1997, Cambodia’s main source of FDI came from Taiwan. The relations changed after 1997 where China’s investment and aid to Cambodia became prominent in shaping Cambodia’s relation with China (Chen, 2018). However, the growth of their relationship cannot be discussed one-sided focussing only on China’s policy of expanding its political economy towards the regions of its interest. Chen (2018), while analysing BRI and its effect on the two countries’ relationship, observed that they progressed based on understanding of mutual trust and gains. This pattern of development involving the two countries was evident even before BRI from 1997 to 2013. Tai and Soong (2014) observed that their relationship heightened due to the emerging Chinese economy and foreign policy driven by economic objectives and Cambodia’s need for FDI and other financial assistance from China. This resulted in a strategic-mutual gain partnership, which has led to stronger economic integration and collective consensus regarding regional identity. This is supported by other literature that sees BRI initiative will accelerate Cambodia’s economic integration into the region and the international arena. BRI comprises land and sea routes spanning across 65 countries, and due to which Cambodia can improve such economic integration by serving as a connecting point (Heng & Po, 2017).

There is no denying the opportunities and benefits that Cambodia is gaining from its relation with China and from the BRI initiatives. By 2017, over 2,000 km of roads were build. Seven large bridges were constructed. A new container terminal at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port and a new international airport in Siem Reap and an international airport in Kandal province were constructed with USD 3 billion used. The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Express was constructed with USD 2 billion being used (Phea, 2020). On a similar level, projects were undertaken in hydro industries, communication, agriculture and energy. Not only that, the investment extends to the education sector. In return, Cambodia supports China in political positions of China, such as the South China Sea issue, the alleged permission to China to use Cambodia as a naval base (Phea, 2020). All these events and development demonstrates that Cambodia finds that it is in its interest to support China and its political strategies. Cambodia sees the BRI initiatives in its advantage. Its alignment with BRI places Cambodia in a stronger position regarding its political, economic and security positions. This view is supported by Po and Primiano (2020) who observed that Cambodia, unlike some states that balance its relation with China and the US, embraces China’s strategies exclusively. They offer a relevant perspective to why Cambodia aligns its policies with that of China. They state that Cambodia does not have a territorial dispute with China. This allows Cambodia to prioritise on its economic progress and thus engages with China. Cambodia has an authoritarian regime and does not need to balance its economic and power relations with China and the US.

The discussion so far shows that Cambodia is attached with a bigger and powerful country like China driven by its sole self-interest of economic gains. With that in top priority, it has not only gained economic advancement, but has gradually gained political power in the region. The BRI initiative places Cambodia at a greater geoeconomics and geopolitical advantage. To give a clearer perspective of this strategy, one could relate to the concept of bandwagoning. Kang (2009, 7) defines it as a clear attempt “to curry favour with a state through military alliances or economic and diplomatic cooperation”. Manicom and O’Neil (2010) state that smaller countries practice bandwagoning in its economic, political, and diplomatic. Bandwagoning could be pure or limited. The pure form involves a smaller state aligning with a bigger power, but gradually distancing itself from another power. The limited form involves the state aligning with a bigger power and also balancing its relations with the bigger power (Kuik, 2008). There is a comprehensive form where the small state aligns with the bigger state in all aspects, including military, diplomatic, economic, and political. Here such a state does not aim for a particular power and does not completely distance itself from another power (Po & Primiano, 2020). In this context, it is important to understand the characteristics of Cambodia’s alignment with China. By aligning with a bigger state, a small state gains security guarantee and maintains internal stability (Holst, 1985; Holsti, 1983). This involves seeking profit by adopting a bandwagoning policy (Schweller, 1994). In such practice, the small state focuses on its neighbour’s increasing power (Wei, 2006). Cambodia lies between Vietnam and Thailand and China. Vietnam and Thailand are more powerful than China. Cambodia does not share a border with China. In Cambodia’s case, it does not adopt a bandwagoning policy towards Vietnam and Thailand. It aligns with China with which many ASEAN countries have maritime disputes. It has adopted a comprehensive alignment with China by completely embracing China (Kuik, 2008; Po & Primiano, 2020).

2.1.2 Political position is the priority

Debates favouring the Cambodia strategy towards its relation with China is justifiable given Cambodia’s progress in terms of its political position in the region and international arena. Such progress is driven by its economic development, which has been mainly possible due to China’s support and recently due to the BRI initiative. Chansok (2019) provides a combination of economic and political security rationale behind the support of Cambodia-China relations with respect to the BRI initiative. BRI links Asia to Africa and Europe. BRI aims to promote regional infrastructure and inter-regional economic cooperation. In this context, Cambodia has access to a massive market that can integrate itself with other foreign economic structures. BRI provides Cambodia with access to financial resources not only from China but also from other sources such as the World bank. Chansok (2019) further observed that it aligns with the Royal Government’s priority of economic growth and development that could be achieved through BRI’s capability of enhancing Cambodia’s infrastructure connectivity. BRI is a win-win strategic partnership for Cambodia. Not only will it provide Cambodia with enhanced economic development, it will also provide political security. Thus, Cambodia has an enhanced bilateral political relations with China after they signed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Cooperation in 2010. It strictly adheres to One-China policy that is based on mutual respect and trust and equal partnership. From this strict understanding flows its strong support for the BRI. Aligning its political priorities with strategic partnership goals, Cambodia benefits in having a stake in the security and development of the region.

Chansok, (2019) states that through such alignment, Cambodia can comply with requirements arising from regional multilateral arrangement including ASEAN Regional Forum; ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus; and ASEAL Plus Three to name a few. Based on these points, one could argue that Cambodia has been able to meet its priorities because of its strategic association with China and BRI has enhanced such compliance. The relationship between the two countries seems to be based on mutual gain. Particularly, as seen earlier in respect to their long standing relations, Cambodia’s top priority of economic progress is appreciated and reciprocated by China through its aid and funding. The closer Cambodia gets to China politically, the more China is willing to grant economic advantage to Cambodia. Sok (2016) observed that there are no friends or enemies in foreign policy, but only states’ interests. Based in the ground, Sok commented that due to Cambodia’s support to China in the South China Sea issue, it was rewarded US$600 million by China.

In brief, Cambodia has attained an economic competitiveness in the regional and world arena with stronger legal and regulatory framework facilitating trade and investment and mobilisation of resources. It has developed its physical infrastructure connectivity. It has developed its resource skills as per the market demands. Due to BRI, it has increased its debt delivery services (Chansok, 2019). In return, even though China claims that its investments and aid are without any strings, Cambodia provides diplomatic support in return. There seems to be a form of patron-client arrangement. Scott (1972) stated that a patron-client arrangement can be voluntary or asymmetrical exchange of gains. The former is based on a consensual nature of exchange where the client is willing to take the risks and bear costs when supporting the patron’s key interests, even when there is no coercion. The latter form indicates the extent and benefits of exchange on arrangements between unequal states, where the client supports the patron’s diplomatic agenda, economic interests and military in return for assistance and protection (Kusuma, 2009). However, it must also be noted that the relations between the two countries have been built over decades.

Kusuma (2009) observed that the rise of China provides Cambodia with considerable economic, military and political support from China. This does not mean that Cambodia wishes to give up or decrease its sovereignty. Further, China’s patron-client arrangement is considered less intrusive than that followed by the Western countries. Reading with the view that Cambodia has good rationale behind its arrangement with China in the BRI initiative, the arrangement could be treated as consensual where Cambodia has taken decisions based on its priority of economic progress. However, this viewpoint cannot deny the arguments that its arrangement with China may be in the form of an asymmetrical exchange of gains that Kusuma (2009) highlighted. Thus, how would Cambodia deny the argument that China is not intrusive into its foreign and political affairs where Cambodia supports China in South China Sea issues against other ASEAN countries? How would it defend the allegation that it is paying its political patronage to China’s economic support? The justifiable answer, which will also present a consensual and mutual gaining arrangement, could be found in the position Cambodia occupies in the BRI initiatives in the region.

Kusuma (2009) observed that the China-Cambodia relations have shifted after the BRI. It is no longer limited to financial aid and trade aspects. The focus is more on building holistic and focused policy. It cannot be a simple economic clientelism bilateral arrangement. Cambodia has now a regional function and role in the Southeast Asia region occupying the key hub position of the Maritime Silk Road (Kusuma, 2009). Their political relation is a consensual exchange where both the countries gain their desired outcomes. There is mutual reciprocity. From a power distribution perspective, there is a huge gap with China possessing more material power, which is military and economic power and non-material power, which is soft diplomacy. However, considering the value attached to the geopolitical position that Cambodia holds, as Keohane (1986) observed, it could be stated that there is a mutual exchange of needs between the two countries.

2.2 Economics as a means to drive political decisions

Whatever rationale it be, it is also quite clear that economics is a tool used by China mainly and Cambodia to a certain extent to drive their political ambition. China seems to have understood that its political expansion in the regions and at international arena is through economic expansion through its aid and investment projects making BRI countries dependent on it. Cambodia also seems to have understood this aspect and thus, uses its political relations with China to attain its economic priorities.

The Chinese political system brought changes in its economic and market transition despite being an authoritarian and hierarchical system. The kind of political patronage, as discussed earlier, has been inbuilt in the political system. China’s political system follows a “gradualist” economic policy. This was found in the strategy drafted by Former Premier Zhao Ziyang, the “playing to the provinces”. He distributed particularistic benefits to the local government interests with the aim to increase his support in the Communist Party (Naughton, 2008; Shirk, 1993). This strategy involved a gradualist transition offering opportunities to individual leaders to create coherent political strategies. It led to a reinforcing hierarchy and patronage system (Naughton, 2008). The political system of China adopted a selective withdrawal, which drives political patronage. It allowed participants selective access to income streams and lucrative opportunities (Naughton, 2008). Such selective access became routine and institutionalised where private businesses did not have legitimacy or protection of property rights forcing them to maintain good relations with government and the party officials. Naughton (2008), thus, observed that such kind of incentive mainly based on incentives within the hierarchical system advanced marketisation and more important, reinforcement of allegiance to the political regime. It is important to analyse the research question from the perspective of the gradualist economic policy. Questions can, therefore, be asked as to whether or not the incentive-driven patronage system is effectively enforced in Cambodia that Cambodia finds it in its interest to align its economic and political strategy with that of China.

Naughton (2008) categorises the hierarchical system of patronage as firstly an incentivised system with the approach of increasing monetary payments and higher incentives; and secondly, as an institutionalised political career path driven by predictable and powerful incentives. Both the systems closely link compensation with managerial effort and performance, and highly reinforce commitment to the political regime and specific instructions and patrons. After 1993, a new form of authoritarian came alive separating the political party from the government. The Communist Party has direct management of government posts, decision-making processes, and associated processes. This led to a new form of patronage where a link between patronage and the hierarchy is established outside economic interests (Naughton, 2008).

In the light of the discussion around this new form of patronage, it could be stated that China-Cambodia relationship goes beyond the incentive and compensation driven patronage system to include political and diplomatic dependencies. There is an apparent unequal distribution of economic, political and military power where China has an upper hand. However, the relationship presents to a certain extent a mutual patronage where both parties incentivise each other in the form of exchange between economic support against political support in the region. From Cambodian perspective on BRI, Chheang and Pheakdey (2019) observed that their shared interest is seen in the close high-level contacts, inter-governmental coordination committee, coordinated defense and law enforcement sectors, and accelerating BRI implementation. They seem to share the common goal of building a shared future of common development and prosperity. This is reflected in the support of each other in domestic and international matters, some of which were mentioned earlier (Chheang & Pheakdey, 2019). An otherwise perspective could be that as an implication of BRI upon the relations between Cambodia and China, the dependencies as mentioned earlier may come in the form of political conditions attached to the aid of China and BRI initiative. Cambodia regularly fosters China’s One-China policy and supports Cambodia to China’s position on the South China Sea territory issue. However, this may not be demonstrable as the arrangements between the two countries seem to be consensual and negotiated based on common aligned policies. Chen (2018) observed that Cambodia’s best interest is in the strategic relation with China and BRI is the platform that shows the synchronisation of the two countries’ political and economic development priorities. However, with a better and advanced political economy, China seems to have the control of using the aid as the main political tool to build bilateral connections (Chen, 2018). This is not to ignore the fact that Cambodia’s strategies towards the BRI initiative and to the development even before BRI is to maximise its national interest among other powers. The rationale behind the strategies is to foster internal legitimacy and political stability through the external support from China in terms of financial and economic aids. Before China, Cambodia had Taiwan (Soong, 2016). After 1997, it has been China with which Cambodia has developed a regional strategic partnership based on reasonable and convenient political and economic arrangements (Soong, 2016). Thus, the objective of the strategic partnership by Cambodia is based on maximising its strength regarding political and economic stability, internally and in the region. This is justifiable given that before BRI, Cambodia was subject to issues including inefficient aid, financial non-transparency, low efficiency of social capital accumulation in its relation with China. The position of the relation changed after the BRI where the two countries work on the common development goals complementing each other (Chen, 2018).

Financial aids come with conditionalities. Conditionalities are attached to aids granted to a country. They could be either consensual or involuntary. The former comprises consultation and discussion between the parties where mutually agreed measures are adopted to achieve desired objectives (Killick, 1998). However, even such consensual measures could find linking implementation and release of credits for trigger and tranching criteria. This means credits are not completely paid upfront and there are prior actions to be completed before credit releases. Such pre-conditions are tools to maximise financial leverage (Killick, 1998). In relevance to Cambodia, the agreements between China and Cambodia seem to be based on consensual conditionalities reflected in Cambodia’s strong relation with China, as seen earlier. The basis is found in BRI partner countries, including Cambodia working towards mutual understanding and building stronger mutual cooperation, integration and interdependence (Sarker, et al., 2018). This perspective is a recurrent observation in this research that may defy arguments of China influencing Cambodia’s decision making processes or Cambodia may be exposed to debt risk.

A better analysis of the relation with the two countries may be achieved if done by considering the aspects of involuntary conditions. These conditions are generally coercive where financial strength is used to promote the objectives of the state that is giving the aids (Killick, 1998). Until such conditions are completed, the aids are not granted. As such, there is probably a low level of ownership by the receiving state of projects and initiatives under the aid programmes. This is a justified reason as the receiving state will not voluntarily execute any changes. In a way, the donor state uses its financial strength to coerce the receiving state without having regard to the interest of the latter (Killick, 1998). The desperate position of the latter makes it surrender its power and authority to the donor state (Killick, 1998). Based on reading the aspects of involuntary conditions, will it also be justified to think that Cambodia has surrendered its political economy to the reigns of China? From the time Cambodia achieved a settlement of civil war with China’s support to the most recent financial aid worth millions of USD dollar, will it be appropriate to assume that Cambodia has surrendered to the financial strength of China for its objectives of increasing its economic strength and political power in the region? This may be a relevant assumption given that China suffers from a trust deficit in the South East region. Countries in this region have strategies with the aim to diversify their economic and strategic interests from the influence and investment of China. At the same time Cambodia also faces the necessity of positioning itself as a legitimate power against the immediate neighbours. Thus, the topic of mutual need arises.

In this light, Chheang (2017) observed that China needs Cambodia to leverage its powers over the region and the latter needs China as a key strategic and economic partner. However, Cambodia has economic overdependence upon China, which holds greater power enabling China to exercise significant political leverage over Cambodia (Chheang, 2017). An example elaborating this aspect could be in the alleged lack of coherence in Chinese’s strategy regarding BRI projects that are subject to centripetal tendencies and uncoordinated efforts. There is no transparency when a project is claimed to be an BRI project without revealing clearly the aims, financial basis, and structure of the projects (Rippa, 2020; Dwyer, 2020). There is further no limit to the scope of BRI initiative where every investment from China somehow links with BRI initiative irrespective of particular rationale, nature and the context of the projects. Hence, it may be justified to support the argument that BRI is an effort to push a range of initiatives defined by one narrative of China (Rippa, 2020; Dwyer, 2020).

2.3 Free trade signifies dominance

The stance of the two countries focussed on mutual development goals contrasted with the Western’s representation of the rise of power of China. Such representation was seen in the US political circle to adopt a strategy to slow down the rise of China by adopting a coalition with Korea, Vietnam, Russia and India that could bring a balance of power in the region. The US allegedly painted China as an emerging great power with the potential to be assertive and to bring turmoil in international affairs. However, China in 2003 launched its doctrine of heping jueqi, which means China avoids the aggressive stance that emerging powers take (Arrighi, 2009). It aims for peaceful development or coexistence, which is also reflected in former Chinese’s president Hu Jintai’s 2004 proclamation of the four no’s to hegemony, force, bloc and arms race and four yes’s to confidence building, reducing difficulties, developing co-operation and avoiding confrontation (Bulard, 2005). The proclamation, if read from China-Cambodia perspective, could be stated to be reflected in their joint political and economic strategy.

2.3.1 Free trade and BRI

Connecting with what Smith and colleagues (2014) observed earlier, the supposedly liberal ideas of free trade of China in the form an BRI initiative cannot be applicable to the political relations between China and Cambodia. BRI may be argued to favour China being a more advanced manufacturing state, which promotes its protectionist measures. The example is Sihanoukville in Cambodia where private commercial capital has transformed Sihanoukville into the “next Macau” of the South-East Asian region with mushrooming casinos in the area that may not be sustainable or beneficial for Cambodia (Lai, et al., 2020). It is here relevant to reiterate that due to the unequal power distribution, China does not consider Cambodia’s local interests as demonstrated by local communities discontentment with some Chinese investment projects affecting labour rights and environmental protection (Chheang, 2017).

The approach of China in Cambodia and in general demonstrates an aggressive characteristic of China. With such an approach, why are BRI countries, including Cambodia following China’s direction, if any? If compared with the US, Drache and colleagues (2019) observed that China has very less soft power index in the area of public policy. It lacks global cultural dominance. It lacks mass media industries required for global support. English is the common language preferred in regard to movement of resources and skills. However, Drache and colleagues (2019) state that China is focussed on its economic persuasion and strategies as a tool of development and diplomacy and as a form of a soft power. Its policies of aid and loan have impacted governments. Its foreign aid keeps increasing with USD741 million in 2001 to 7,092 trillion in 2013. This indicates that the economic tool yields outcomes sooner than the typical soft approach. It has provided China with legitimacy, the justification is found in what Drache and colleagues (2019) observed that the values of liberalism and soft power are interchangeable. Soft power is similar to liberal values including openness, accountability and democratic institutions. In that regard, it is also observed that despite its economy being globalised, China is not democratic (Drache, et al., 2019). Does it mean that China’s influence through BRI has impacted the democratic structure of Cambodia through the aggressive economic policies?

2.3.2 BRI and non-interference policy

There are certain arguments that would defy China’s 2003 heping jueqi and claim of non-interference and non-aggressive political and economic position. Po and Sims (2021) disprove China’s claim of non-interference approach in its international diplomacy. With reference to Cambodia, they observed that foreign interference cannot be limited to actions challenging a regime’s leadership. It can be a reinforcement of a regime that lacks popular support. This is found when China has time and again interfered to reinforce Prime Minister Hun Sen’s leadership (Po & Sims, 2021). Peou (2019) observed that in 2018, Cambodia underwent major political setbacks where after the senate and parliamentary elections, the Cambodian People Party monopolised the power. Prime Minister Hun Sen has exercised dominance over the state institutions including the armed forces, judiciary and the political party system. This attracted international pressure of sanctions over the issues regarding elections results, and the political and human rights situation (Peou, 2019). According to Po and Sims (2021), such interference has led to advancement of China’s interests where Cambodia supports BRI, or Beijing’s negotiations with ASEAN (Po & Sims, 2021). These events, however, have not affected the growing social-economic development (Peou, 2019). Despite all the events that have occurred, Cambodia has become China’s most significant regional partner. Through their strategic cooperation, the political and economic development of Cambodia stands with China’s regional economic strategy and supports the expansion of the production chain of China (Chen, 2018).

2.3.3 Conditionality attached to aid and debt-servicing capacities

The conditionalities agreed upon or arrived at between the parties can have justification that are persuasive and not coercive. Such justification gives legitimacy that does not breach the sovereignty of the receiving government or imposes political and economic costs on the state and the people (Killick, 1998). Conditionality in the form of securing return of the aid gives such legitimacy where the receiving state must show capacity to repay and treat the donor state as the preferred creditor in regard to the receiving state’s resources disregarding claims of other governments. Thus, there will be measures in place to enhance the debt-servicing capacities of the receiving states, in the form of favourable policy for direct investment, or improved export performance. Thus, as long as such conditions are enforced, the arrangement will not include risky economic policy reforms (Killick, 1998). Cambodia’s support and services are a form of enhancing its debt-servicing capabilities. These capabilities seem to be working so far as is reflected by the IMF 2021 listing Cambodia as having a low-risk of debt distress (IMF, 2021). The persuasive conditionalities are found in China-Cambodia’s engagement. BRI has increased China’s investment with focus on economic connectivity. Cambodia has gained in terms of economic growth, poverty reduction, and people’s welfare (Chandarany, et al., 2011). BRI focuses on economic expansion encompassing political, economic, international, and cultural relationships (Joshua, 2019). In return, China gets the closest ally it could ask in Cambodia to support in its regional conflicts and to uphold regional security (Pheakdey, 2012).

2.4 Predatory diplomacy

There is a pitfall in supporting the BRI initiative. Literature research on this topic finds representation of China as using its financial aid as a tool or terming its aid as “predatory lending” to foster its geopolitical ends through geoeconomics power. This view is clearly represented in a public letter dated 3 August 2018 by Edwin M Truman, former assistant secretary of the US Treasury for International Affairs, where he termed China’s aid as a weapon to expand its economy (Lai, et al., 2020). BRI has been described as a debt-trap (Bennett, 2019). This may be justifiable considering that in 2017, Cambodia’s bilateral loans have increased to USD5.3 billion out of which USD3.9 billion was from China (Chansok, 2019). Before judging, China’s policy must be understood clearly. There is no doubt that to see China as an emerging leader in international development. It has the financial potential to address major international developmental gaps. However, it is exposed to the narrative of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ attached to its source of lending. This cannot deny the fact that its lending supports smaller countries that are not advanced by Western countries. Thus, the narrative does not justify Chinese lending objectives. Demonstrably, Chinese loans do not majorly drive debt distress in the receiving countries and hence are not predatory towards borrowing countries (Singh, 2020). This means China does not use debt to facilitate its takeovers of strategic assets and natural resources of the borrowing countries, or promote military expansion. China follows a non-interventionist approach, for example in the Latin America and the Caribbean allowing such developing countries to a space of economic and development, and securing themselves from hostilities with the US and its allies (Singh, 2020).

2.4.1 Debt-trap BRI

It should be noted that Cambodia has the capacity to service the debt. This is based on the IMF 2021 listing that states that Cambodia is at a low risk of debt distress (IMF, 2021). IMF (2018) further observed that there is low risk for Cambodia to fall in the debt trap arising from BRI. The reason is that it is effectively managing its macroeconomic policies. Cambodia uses the US dollar in its economy and monetary policy. It maintains a stable nominal exchange rate of its currency. It has so far avoided mismanagement of its fiscal and monetary policies. The average inflation rate has been the lowest despite an increase in its economic growth (IMF, 2018). The low-risk of debt distress may deflect arguments of China exercising influence over the geopolitical and geoeconomics strategies of Cambodia, but it may not be able to justify arguments that Chinese investments affect the environment in Cambodia. This is in specific reference to projects such as hydropower dams. Projects like Kamchay Dam flooded 2000 hectares of Bokor National Park affecting the habitat of endangered species and the resource system of local communities. They also led to forced eviction of local communities (Heng & Po, 2017). Not only that, BRI has exposed Cambodia to insufficient integration of its domestic labour and human resources. This occurs due to the nature of Chinese financial investment that is mostly a closed affair. Chinese investors and businesses functioned in a closed arrangement leaving out local players (The Asean Post, 2018). Such an arrangement adds to the argument that the investments and aids coming from China is a debt trap diplomacy where the contracts are not clear with high interest rates and predatory loan practices. Such a financial arrangement deprives a receiving state, such as Cambodia of its sovereignty (The Asean Post, 2018). This view is supported by the US’s concern raised against the possibility of China’s military bases in Cambodia. It raised concerns regarding Cambodia’s possible loss of sovereignty and independence to China. This was publicly made known by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh in the July 2019 public letter that stated that any measure weakening independence of Cambodia or opening foreign military presence in Cambodia is a serious concern to the US. It could pose a threat to ASEAN (Chheang & Pheakdey, 2019).

The argument about deprivation of a borrowing state’s sovereignty is not limited to the Cambodia case. This argument is extended to other regions. Carmody (2019) elaborating on China-Africa relations observed the rise of a moral panic in the West among the public and the political circle allegedly due to the rise of China. China is presented as predatory against hapless and powerless African victims. This gives rise to the arguments about debt-trap diplomacy. If there is an intensified relationship of dependence between China and Africa, there is an increased debt, which may result in a debt trap. However, this argument may be unjustified given that the development outcome may also include other excessive overseas borrowing (Carmody, 2020). Favouring arguments of predatory diplomacy, the case of Sri Lanka is often cited. The Hambantota port in Sri Lanka is under a ninety-nine-year lease with a Chinese state-owned company. This acquisition occurred after the Sri Lankan government failed to service its loans alleging that China practices debt trap diplomacy (Ferchen & Perera, 2019). It is argued that such debt for-infrastructure deals are sustainable with the borrowing developing countries. The opposite argument is that some of overseas lending of China has exposed its own banks and firms to political and financial risk. Not to forget too that China’s partners have their independent choices to be in the partnership (Ferchen & Perera, 2019).

2.4.2. Patronage in return

In regard to the predatory diplomacy arguments, the question is how much independence does a borrowing country have in regard to its choices. In regard to Cambodia’s relation with China, the question is therefore about the manner Cambodia maintains productive economic ties with China while avoiding its dependence and loss of sovereignty. As observed earlier by Kusuma (2009) and Killick (1998), arguments regarding political patronage demanded by China from Cambodia and conditionalities attached to China’s loans and aids did not hold against the argument that China-Cambodia relationship is consensual with both parties attaining respective interests out of the relationship. In that respect, China seems to have upheld its principles of mutual respect governing territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence (Sokunpanha, 2017). However, Woods (2008) observed that China’s foreign aid is to obtain energy security; expand trading opportunities; make new economic partnerships; and ultimately rapidly grow its economic strength and size in the international arena. Thus, through Cambodia, as Ciorciari (2015) observed, China’s strong ties with Cambodian is to build up a “charm offensive” in the Southeast Asia region and in return seeks diplomatic favours. This is relevant with the discussion around patronage and conditionalities, which is already addressed. However, becoming the biggest donor and investor might raise serious arguments. Not only affecting the social structure in Cambodia, the dependency of Cambodia on China may lead to its foreign policy favouring China’s geopolitical strategy. This argument is not new to the China-Cambodia relationship. Cambodia’s foreign policy is said to have been driven by security or survival. This is based on the reason that Cambodia was once a prosperous Khmer empire, which decayed and encroached upon by Thailand and Vietnam. After its independence in 1954, it adopted neutralism. It started its friendly relation with China as it saw China as the future dominant power in the Southeast Asia region (Marsot, 1969). However, Cambodia is criticised for subjecting its foreign policy to China’s interest serving China’s political and diplomatic interests (Heng & Po, 2017). This is done at the expense of other ASEAN countries and countries in the region hindering ASEAN from formulating any statements concerning China’s expansive territorial claims. This is a sign of increasing political and economic leverage that China exercises over Cambodia. This affects its relations with other ASEAN countries and other powers in the region and in the international arena. The signs of favouring China’s political strategy are found in its ban on Taiwan flag being hoisted; its continuous support of China’s position on the South China Sea issue; its cancelation of the Seabee programme (which is US military aid programme); and delay of the Angkor Sentinel, which is a joint military exercise between Cambodia and the US (Heng & Po, 2017).

2.4.3. Impact of globalisation

The political economy interaction between China and Cambodia can also be seen from the sphere of globalisation. Globalisation determines description of and analysing the contemporary world. The realists do not favour the notion of states interdependence (Smith, et al., 2014). They see states as unitary actors. In relevance to globalisation, states’ attempt to maximise their power has altered the means. States focus on biased trading relationships to increase power and influence. Hence, economic factors play a major role in promoting a state’s power or determining the weakness of a state (Smith, et al., 2014). Accordingly, the political relation between the two countries could not be termed interdependent. Both seem to be acting in an unitary approach stressed on their respective objectives. Cambodia’s intention seems to be upgrading its geopolitical and geoeconomic position in the region with priority on its economic progress. China seems to have the single aim of solidifying its political position in the region and at the international arena by aligning the BRI countries with its economic expansion in order to gain political supremacy. China has more economic and political power, and it is a question to determine whether or not China-Cambodia has a biased trading relationship where China is increasing its power and influence.

2.5 Negotiation in dependant relation

According to the Dependency theory, dependency is a two way process where A may depend on B for development assistance and B depends on A for raw materials and market access (Smith, et al., 2014). This gives rise to a complex pattern of relationship comprising a system of economic interaction and also related socio-political and cultural influences on each other. This presents both advantages and disadvantages (Smith, et al., 2014). To elaborate, reference is made here to the study conducted by Phal (2019) covering the role of China in the development of building construction sector in Cambodia. Phal perceived impacts of China’s foreign direct investment on the local people’s livelihood. Addressing the issues from a sustainable development theory and dependency theory, Phal observed that Cambodia must complete a lot of work to be a sustainable developed country through the use of the FDI. Phal further observed, applying dependence theory, that it will be too early to conclusively treat China as a coloniser as Cambodia is also achieving benefits out of the Chinese investment.

Cheang (2021) presents a favourable argument to the strategy Cambodia has adopted. Cheang observed that Cambodia has embraced BRI. BRI provides the ruling elites with massive opportunities enabling them to accumulate domestic authority. China-Cambodia has a power asymmetry and the ruling elites have managed this power asymmetry externally. At the same time, they have internally maximised their authority through legitimisation, co-option and coercion. It has strengthened its bargaining power but also has reduced the risks from overreliance on the relationship. The ruling elites have consolidated their power through BRI. They have facilitated economic growth and bolstered their performance legitimacy through the politico-security umbrella provided by China against challenges from the West, Thailand and Vietnam (Chheang, 2021).

In the process of globalisation, a structural feature in the form of dominance of key political and financial institutions comes into the picture, which further leads to embedding powers that dominate the international system (Smith, et al., 2014). At the same time, the globalisation process also leads to liberation of trade and the formal structure of control over the movement of goods, people and services. The globalised economy will lead to a prosperous and developed society (Smith, et al., 2014). However, globalisation brings about changes that make a government haplessly exposed to social, economic, cultural and environmental problems. It has prominence in political debate where it is used to justify protectionism and nationalism. It also brings about fluidity in the economic activities depriving the government to exercise control over the economy (Brittan, 1998). In that way, globalisation undermines national sovereignty. To elaborate, an open economic system can bring international peace and stability. It can open or isolate closed political regimes. It weakens them. It can foster interdependence and promote political stability. However, at the same time, globalisation merely reinforces the dominance enjoyed by rich countries (Brittan, 1998).

2.5.1 Benefits of BRI

Considering the two different aspects of globalisation, this research will review the open economic policy that China has adopted towards Cambodia in context of the two aspects. A perspective covering relation between business and politics will be worth analysing here given that globalisation seems to have its impact on the China-Cambodia relations. As mentioned earlier, the first strand of BRI is the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) consisting of routes through Central Asia, Mongolia, Iran and Turkey. The second strand is the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), a sea route passing through South and Southeast Asia via the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean going towards the Middle East and Southern Europe (Garlick, 2019). These two strands constitute the establishment of key economic cooperation corridors and maritime points across Europe and Asia.

The benefit of establishing the BRI initiatives is found in the recent COVID pandemic response action. Health diplomacy forms a key component of the BRI initiative for over five years now. Relevant policies have taken the term “health silk road” for health initiatives through the BRI projects. BRI documents provide for training programmes; public health capacity-building; emergency medical relief, to name a few. Through the health BRI initiatives, Cambodia along with other Southeast Asian countries received medical aid supplies delivered by the People’s Liberation Army. In BRI countries, donations are provided by Chinese firms in those countries.

This is one example that projects the benefits that BRI offers (Rudolf, 2021). At the same time, it is not to ignore the aspect of China’s ambition of land and sea influence. In that regard, Drache and colleagues (2019) observed that when the BRI was proposed the China’s President speech sounded like an ambition to extend China’s land and sea influence towards the west and the south and to establish trade routes to Rome. The BRI initiative seems to be China’s ambition of re-establishing its ancient regime during the Mind era (1368-1644) when it dominated global commerce. China has the Shanghai-Cooperation Organisation, a sister organisation of BRI, through which it aims to bring a new international order that is an alternative to the US-dominated business groups. The BRI is expected to operate until 2049 with a price tag of more than USD4 trillion assuming it to be the largest and costliest infrastructural development (Drache, et al., 2019). This is a project spanning globally. This is seen in the USD 1.1 trillion contracts signed with 87 countries with more than 17 new countries joining the BRI. There has been more than 15,000 contracts signed. New countries from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean have joined the BRI projects. The BRI initiatives have also admitted 11 EU members and 5 non-EU members from Central and Eastern European countries. The involvement of Europe and Asia has been China’s goal of establishing a geopolitical, economic corridor between the two countries connecting Africa and the Middle East (Drache, et al., 2019).

2.5.2 China’s hard and soft approach

China has adopted a hard and soft infrastructure in the form of transport, water management, energy, communication, economic structure, earth monitoring and social infrastructure (Deepak, 2018). With the amount of investment and the high stake value projects, the regional political and economic order seems to have been impacted by the BRI. As one could see that most of the ASEAN countries have adopted BRI initiatives. Even Philippines that had issues with China over the South China Sea have welcomed BRI. Except for India, other smaller nations in the South Asia see BRI as an opportunity to foster deep economic and people to people relationships. The fact that Russia, the Central Asia countries and most of the East European countries have joined the BRI surely indicates that a new order is in place. Deepak (2018) mentioned that BRI has been viewed as a global rebalancing of economic and political order with respect to the US’ ‘pivot to Asia’. BRI is seen as a re-globalisation scheme.

In this grand global plan, what would be the role of and the level of negotiation power that Cambodia would hold when it is one of the many economic and political connecting points in the overall plan? Wang (2018) . The notion of great power leadership, great powers have larger military and economic strength. They have a stronger voice in the international arena. They wield the most global influence. In that respect, not every nations exercises equal power. Thus, whether the power of the stronger nation is active or passive, smaller countries follow them. The behaviour of the greater nations impacts the international peace and order. They assume the role of ensuring this order and to satisfy the national interests of the smaller countries by adopting reforms or transformation (Wang, 2018). This national interest holds the primary position in governing foreign relations. In case the national interests of two nations are opposite, the countries pursue their own national interests. Each country’s behaviour is driven by the national interest. Thus, in the face of competition, nations form alliance and may in extreme case resort to welfare. While some argue that this causes chaos in the international order, others view it as driving the international order forward as it brings a balance between the nations (Wang, 2018).

2.5.2 Cambodia’s crucial position and greater power of China

In regard to the impact of leadership of greater power, which is China, it may be justified to state that, whether it is a hard or soft policy of China or a combination of both, Cambodia being a smaller nation tends to follow BRI. There is an unequal power distribution. China influences the order impacted the BRI countries, including Cambodia. As seen earlier, the loans and aid serve the objective of Cambodia, which is economic priority. They satisfy the national interest of Cambodia. If they did not, Cambodia like India would not have followed BRI objectives. The criticisms posed to China in regard to BRI and the arguments presenting China-Cambodia relation as being consensual is rightly captured by Wang (2018). It is either chaos or a new international order that would arise form alliance or welfare approach. The former is found in the arguments regarding predatory diplomacy and loss of state sovereignty of BRI countries. The latter is found in the new countries adopting BRI initiatives.

As Cheung and Hong (2018) observed earlier, Cambodia now is in a crucial juncture with regard to the Asian connectivity. Cambodia is a fast-growing member of the ASEAN. However, literature review does not describe how China benefits or is dependent on BRI countries, particularly those with a geopolitical advantage. It is important to also note that Cambodia offers a stronger geopolitical advantage to China and to itself (Greer, 2018). It is in the interest of both the countries to deflect conflicts or opposition from Vietnam and Thailand when it comes to growing their economic superiority and fostering their sovereignty in the region. Further, the Chinese’s infrastructural investment in Cambodia in the energy sector also ensures China with access to energy and communication to ensure progress of its BRI initiatives and goals (Chong, 2017).

When countries such as Russia and Easter European countries and increasing number of South Asian countries have joined the BRI initiatives, it reflects a new international economic and political order. From that perspective, it may not be justifiable to just assume China-Cambodia relations as being one of a dependant relationship. Cambodia relations with China has moved from purely economic stance to a more geopolitical security zone. This cannot be analysed one-sided. A clearer picture is arrived at by looking at the multi-layered relations between the two parties from a multi-dimensional perspectives.

3. Research Methodology

This research used literature reviews as the main research component allowing to review, gather, analyse and reflect on existing research findings. The literature review and the findings in this research found that the research topic comprised analysing a range of components governing the China-Cambodia political relations vis-à-vis the BRI initiative. The research subject in question, thus, touched upon various components of political economy addressing how China and Cambodia have built their relations based on geopolitics and geoeconomics strategies. Because of this nature of the research involved, the current research employed a qualitative research method, appropriate to seek multi-layered and multi-faceted information.

The design involved in the qualitative research employed in the current research is open and flexible that suits the objectives of the research (Opoku, Ahmed, & Akotia, 2016, p. 35). Such a flexible approach helped formulate the design in order to gain rationale behind debates around BRI impact on political relations between the two countries. Thus, in the literature review, the research touched upon opposite sides of arguments where on one side, it focuses on China’s capitalist expansionist approach through the BRI and on the other side, Cambodia’s intention and act favouring the BRI so as to gain more economic and political advantage in the region and in the international arena. In order to be able to derive these perspectives, this research has been based on collecting secondary data by conducting a systematic literature review, which enabled the research to eliminate bias while identifying appropriate literatures. Such review involved a scientific method of identifying literature that allowed collating empirical evidence fitting pre-specified eligibility criteria to address the research question in hand (Green, et al., 2011, p. 6). In this research, literature review started with analysis of whether or not it is justified to see China-Cambodia relation vis-à-vis through a one-sided argument that disfavours China due to its alleged expansionist practices when at the same time Cambodia fully supports China in its policies because it gains economic and political advantages in the region (Heng & Po, 2017; Che, 2018; Tai and Soong, 2014).

The context of the research involved an analysis that could prevent ignoring the aspect that it may be Cambodia’s political intention to grow its relation and trust with China, which has been in existence even before the BRI in 2013. In this light, the secondary data collected using a systematic literature review is subjective. The data and information collected will, thus, be qualitative in nature and hence, poses challenges in analysing them (Jones, 2004). For instance, the aid and investment from China to Cambodia runs into millions of US dollars. It would be difficult to understand all the reasons why a country put so much capital into another country. Thus, this research extensively used secondary sources related to implication of BRI initiative and the challenges and opportunities in context to Cambodia-China political and economic relations arising from the implementation of OBOR strategy. This research has incorporated recent and latest information in order to enable forming better recommendations in regard to the research subject in question.

In order to bring clarity into such analysis, it is necessary to adopt a thematic analysis method to organise and analyse the data (Bearman & Dawson, 2013). For example the research questions and the range of components involved in the relations between the two countries could be addressed by understanding it from a geopolitical and geoeconomic perspective. Themes such as debt-trap, mutual economic and political gains, or maximisation of national interest to name a few are used in this research. This research involved a thematic organisation of the collected data and analysis under major themes or according to core key messages in the data (Bearman & Dawson, 2013; Attride-Stirking, 2001). Data collected from literature review were organised, analysed and reviewed to understand patterns around the data collected. This method was appropriate in the qualitative research employed in this result as it could bring out different, meaningful and useful results (Attride-Stirking, 2001). The thematic analysis helped the research to break down the information found after their exploration and integrated the data with the analysis (Attride-Stirking, 2001). Through the systematic literature review and thematic analysis, this research was able to review the political relations from a mutually beneficial strategic relationship between the two countries and prevent a one-sided argument that does not give weightage to the strategic decision of Cambodia in its dynamics with China regarding the BRI initiative and their relationship in general.

The collection of secondary data has been conducted online. Thus, this research used online research platforms such as Google Scholar, Google Books and other relevant websites and journals. The data has been collected after identifying and reviewing a range of literature relevant with the research topics, including the political and economic relations and strategies adopted by China and Cambodia; arguments derived from critically analysing BRI; and the international and regional views around the research subject. Hence, this research involved reviewing books and journal articles and relevant website posts that have some authorities on the research topic. As it is a systematic literature review, to collect relevant data important key words and phrases were used, including one belt one road, BRI initiative, economic development, risk, challenges, opportunities, geopolitics, Cambodia-China relation with respect to OBT, to name a few. The data collection and analysis for this research study was done to cover the past period covering development of stronger China-Cambodia relation to BRI and recent developments.

4. Findings and Discussion

The literature review has broken down the main research question into a few important perspectives covering the area of economic, political relation between the two nations and the national interests that the two countries aim to attain in regard to BRI. In this regard, the literature review has dealt with the two main opposite arguments. On one hand, China through BRI initiatives has one-sided policy favouring its political and economic objective of attaining global power and reordering international economic and political power. Secondly, Cambodia embraces BRI and China’s overall expansionist strategy as it serves its national interest of promoting economic growth.

The literature review findings show that the trade balance regarding the realist approach that Smith and colleagues (2014) mentioned seems to have been achieved in China-Cambodia relationship. Both the countries seem to have attained their trade surplus and are able to maintain the trade balance. The policy gaps that the World Bank (2019) pointed out cannot be said to be correct in its entirety. In regard to Cambodia, its economic and political strategies seem to have been integrated properly with that of BRI initiatives in regard to the regional and international markets. This is certain as Cambodia’s extent of role in its relationship with China has gone beyond just economic growth. It occupies a crucial geo-political and geo-economic positions in the Southeast Asian region

The economic nationalist approach cannot be applicable to China-Cambodia relationship with respect to BRI. There is no competition between the countries. In fact, the total embrace of Cambodia of BRI shows that their policies and strategies are aligned. Hence, it is aptly observed by Smith and colleagues (2014) that the principle of free trade cannot be applied to the research question in hand. The research question goes beyond merely an analysis of free trade. Hence, the notion that a free trade system favours the most advanced manufacturing states is not appropriate in the current research domain. Some may argue that Cambodia support of China in crucial international political question, particularly the South China Sea issue as being a predatory diplomacy by China using its aid and loans as a means. This may be found justifiable to a certain extent as the economic, infrastructural contribution to Cambodia runs in hundreds of millions (Reuters, 2019; Heng & Po, 2017). The amount of contribution has contributed to major arguments found in many literatures presenting China’s strategy as a debt-trap. However, the literature review has also sufficiently presented an alternative argument from Cambodia’s perspective. The adoption of China’s policies and BRI initiatives serves Cambodia’s national interests. It finds itself with stronger economic and political positions in the regions and in the international arena. BRI is a great means for Cambodia to achieve its national interests (Phea, 2020; Po & Primiano, 2020).

Bandwagoning could be pure or limited. The pure form involves a smaller state aligning with a bigger power, but gradually distancing itself from another power. The limited form involves the state aligning with a bigger power and also balancing its relations with the bigger power. There is a comprehensive form where the small state aligns with the bigger state in all aspects, including military, diplomatic, economic, and political. Here such a state does not aim for a particular power and does not completely distance itself from another power (Kuik, 2008; Po & Primiano, 2020). From the literatures reviewed in this research, the used of bandwagoning in the China-Cambodia relationship regarding the BRI initiatives certainly shows an attempt to depict a dependant relationship where Cambodia is dependent on China’s aid and loan. Applying the dependency theory, as Smith and Colleagues (2014) provided, the relations between the two countries is a two-way process. Reading it with the notion of bandwagoning, one could argue that Cambodia follows a comprehensive approach aligning with China in all military, diplomatic, economic, and political aspects. However, the literature review findings surely provide aspects from the other side of the argument. Cambodia gives China a stronger geopolitical advantage. The BRI relationship is mutual and consensual serving each other national interests. Both desires to grow economic superiority and fostering their sovereignty in the region (Greer, 2008; Chong, 2017; Kusuma, 2009; Keohane, 1986).

The literature review findings show that it is not a wise view to explore the impact of the BRI on the China-Cambodia political relation with a presumption that the BRI initiatives are a tool to exercise debt-trap or predatory diplomacy by China. Both the countries understand each other political economy that China intends to expand globally by using a mix of political and economic strategies, which is the BRI in this case; and Cambodia intends to take advantage of BRI to promote its economic and political positioning in the Southeast Asian region. One may see conditionalities attached to the aid and loans from China. The argument of political patronage is allegedly applied to Cambodia, for example Cambodia’s support of China in the South China Sea disputes. However, it will not be unfair to state that Cambodia has also attached conditionalities for its support to China in the form of loans and aid without strings and promotion of its economic interests. In that light, the literature review has found a consensual arrangement between the two countries. Even though the power distribution may be unequal, the high and close levels of contact between the two countries and the high-level coordination demonstrate their common goal of shared future development and prosperity (Chheang & Pheakdey, 2019). The BRI initiative has proved to be the appropriate platform for both the countries to advance this shared future development. China maximises its of global expansion of its political economic power. Cambodia, through BRI, is also expanding its importance in the regional arena (Soong, 2016; Chen, 2018).

The consensual conditionalities between China and Cambodia are very clear. They are not coercive as the financial aid of China cannot be stated to be a tool to extract involuntary acceptance of conditions from Cambodia. Cambodia has not surrendered its power and sovereignty to China in the BRI projects (Sarker, et al., 2018; Killick, 1998). This position may be dented by the finding that the BRI projects do not show any strategic coherence, transparency and defined scope. Any number of projects are defined under the BRI initiatives. This shows somehow that Cambodia has over-dependence on BRI (Rippa, 2020; Dwyer, 2020). This leads to the argument that the free trade and open economy that BRI brings to the political relations imbalances the mutual, consensual relationships. In that light, BRI is seen as a protectionist measure of China ignoring the local interests of Cambodia (Chheang, 2017). It is an aggressive position by China that goes against its 2003 launched its doctrine of heping jueqi. Certain valuable consideration is justified regarding the effect on Cambodia’s sovereignty regarding its foreign policies after the BRI initiatives. Through the BRI, China has strengthened the regime’s leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is considered to lack popular support. The Cambodian People Party was able to monopolise the power. Through him, the BRI initiatives are adopted and advanced (Po & Sims, 2021; Peou, 2019). These aspects are a good example to pose a critical view of the BRI. However, the literature review has also found that the political dynamics have not deterred the growing social-economic development in Cambodia. In addition, the fact that Cambodia has become China’s most significant regional partner and their political and economic development of Cambodia are aligned, as Chen (2018) observed, is it practical to avoid acknowledging the conditionalities that Cambodia has been able to extract from China.

China-Cambodia’s BRI relations seems to be based on persuasive conditionalities where both understands each other objectives and motives. BRI initiatives have enabled China’s economic connectivity objectives and Cambodia’s economic growth and relevance in the South East Asia’s political economy. Thus, their arrangements cannot be said to include risky economic policy reforms. The debt-trap argument also cannot hold as Cambodia as having a low-risk of debt distress (Killick, 1998; IMF, 2021). China has filled the financial support gap in the region that Western countries could not. The research findings, thus, present a different narrative than the popular narratives that present risks in China’s strategies through BRI. This is found in the manner Cambodia has been effectively managing its macroeconomic policies, fiscal and monetary policies, and debt distress. Thus, it is not proper to state that China influences the geopolitical and geoeconomics strategies of Cambodia (IMF, 2018). However, it is also equally important to highlight the effects of the BRI projects that have affected the environment, and uprooted habitat and local communities (Heng & Po, 2017). Such effects push the arguments forward regarding loss of decision-making powers of the Cambodian government. It furthers the moral panic arguments, which were allegedly seen with China influence over African countries or Sri Lanka (Carmody, 2020). However, it is equally important to acknowledge that, as Ferchen & Perera (2019) observed, the some of China’s overseas lending has exposed its own banks and firms to political and financial risk. Moreover, one needs to understand that BRI countries have agreed based on their own political choices.

Cambodia maintains productive economic ties with China while avoiding its dependence and loss of sovereignty. The manner in which Cambodia has managed its relation with China is aptly summed up by Cheang (2021). Cambodia has embraced BRI that is providing the ruling elites with opportunities to maintain an equilibrium economic, political and diplomatic relation with China by balancing its sovereignty with China’s objectives of expanding its political economy. The ruling party has accumulated domestic authority that enables Cambodia to maintain a power asymmetry with China. Their powers are legitimately maximised giving them strengthening Cambodia’s bargaining power with respect to the BRI and political relations with China. Irrespective of the arguments, both the countries have been able to strengthen their relations in terms of economic, political and security aspects.

The BRI is a means through which China is providing Cambodia an umbrella security that benefits both the countries. Their relationship have grown from just economic interests to a deeper relations where political objectives are aligned. China has the ambitions of connecting major key economic corridors through the BRI and, as Drache and colleagues (2019) observed, extending its land and sea influence towards the west and the south and to establish trade routes to Rome. China has taken full advantage of the globalisation of trade and economy. At the same time, Cambodia, being a small country, is also following the same pattern. It is promoting and enhancing its national priority, which has transformed from economic advancement towards a geoeconomics and geopolitical advantage.

The literature review has found that the China-Cambodia relations and the BRI initiatives cannot be subjected to limited aspects, as many existing literatures have done so. Such narratives seem to be one sided and to have not considered Cambodia’s perspective. Most of the arguments are from such one-sided perspective. The literature review findings support this narrative and presents an alternative perspective. This alternative perspective demonstrates that the discussion, analysis and debates around the BRI and China-Cambodia relations cannot be limited to discussion around bandwagoning, debt-trade diplomacy, increasing infrastructure connectivity, or economic and political security, patronage and other conditionalities or free trade policy. The findings so far present that China and Cambodia are in a win-win strategic partnership in the form of the BRI initiatives. They mutually gain. The relationship has gone deeper with close contacts between high level executives. It cannot be a simple economic clientelism bilateral arrangement.

Cambodia has now a crucial regional function and role in the Southeast Asia region. The BRI initiatives demonstrate this aspect. Thus, the one-sided argument or pattern of argument is not sufficient to address the research question. The findings of the literature review could well state that both the countries have adopted the doctrine of heping jueqi. Both the political systems have adopted the gradualist approach, but in a consensual manner. There is a coherent political strategy between the two nations.

5. Reflection Conclusion

This research has enabled me to perform a multilevel review of the research question and the sub-areas involved in the research topic. It has enabled me to break down the research question into understanding that there is more than what is seen in. Majority of the literature attempted to present a balance perspective to China-Cambodia relation in general and the BRI initiatives. However, I found that they are consolatory information with the main arguments being a critical viewpoints against the BRI initiatives. This is not a balanced approach to a research. Research must have a balanced approach, which was not found in the literatures that presented majorly critical opinions about the BRI. The current research has attempted to fill this gap by presenting the BRI related issues from Cambodia’s perspectives. The findings and discussion have thrown up better clarity on understanding the research question in hand and the impact it has not only on Cambodia but also on China. There is a multiple layer of economic, political, diplomatic and security concerns regarding BRI. The very fact that despite knowing the existence of such multiple aspect, it was surprising for the researcher to have found a limited approach to tackling China-Cambodia relation vis-a-vis the BRI initiatives.

This research has found myself in a position to understand and recognise the patterns in political economy adopted by nations in their interrelations. It helped me understand the relevant concepts and theories, and most important applying them to the research subject. This is a personal learning gain. The finding discussion reflects this gains. It also reflects the weak area in this research. The unavailability of a detailed discussion from Cambodia’s perspective. Most of the literatures discussed the political relations from China’s strategy. This seemed wrong to me. An all-round perspective would have given a well-balanced analysis. Having said that, this weak point presents a best example for future research projects. This would have enabled a better reference point to understand political economy in regard to the research question not from a limited approach but from a liberal approach.

The BRI initiative has enhanced the political relationship between the two nations. The research findings do not support the general narratives of China’s diplomatic strategy of predatory diplomacy with the aim of expanding its economic and political power, particularly with regard to Cambodia. It is appropriate to see that China aims to gain a trade advantage over the BRI countries, including Cambodia. The World Bank (2019) report on policy gaps could be a proof of that. However, unlike some BRI countries, Cambodia has managed its risk of debt stress. This is despite the potential of debt-trade diplomacy alleged in China’s strategy. In that respect, it could be stated that China, being a much stronger country, has not adopted an economic nationalist approach towards Cambodia with respect to the BRI initiatives.

China-Cambodia relations is a unique arrangement. It has an open economy and free trade regime. However, it does not have the effect of favouring China alone. The discussion around their relation will be appropriate when done from the exercise of their respective sovereignty. Those who have critically reviewed China’s policy may not find a substance in the argument that Cambodia has preserved and asserted its decision-making powers with respect to the BRI initiatives. Such arguments may be founded to a certain extent when regard to the increasing investments from China and the apparent political and diplomatic support provided by Cambodia to China. This is supported by claims that China, even though it provides a no-string investment, has extracted political patronage from Cambodia. However, a similar observation could be made in the part of Cambodia. The research has found that Cambodia’s strategy supporting BRI has its well thought rationale.

Cambodia’s relationship with China is not new. They have developed their ties to a stronger, deeper connection between the political systems, which goes beyond the arguments of debt-trap or predatory diplomacy. They have promoted and grown together, economically and politically through a coherent approach. Such an approach is found in Cambodia’s complete embracement of the BRI. The BRI initiative has influenced their relationship in terms of bigger growth, more closeness and deeper political economy between the nations. Cambodia now occupies a crucial position if talked about in geopolitical terms. It occupies a crucial position with regard to the fulfilment of China’s BRI initiatives and the ultimate goal of global trade expansion and connectivity. Cambodia and China understand each other's interests. Thus, it does not present a wise argument to limit discussion on the relationship to merely a critical analysis of China’s policies. Cambodia’s interest initially was economic growth. It was the top priority. This has gradually changed over the years with the deep ties it has developed with China. Maybe it was right to an extent to observe that China used its aid as a tool to shape its political and economic strategy internationally. However, this observation can no longer apply. Cambodia and China see each other as strategic partners that could deliver to each other economic and political advantage in the regional and world arena. Hence, the relationship has gone from one-way gain to a mutual gain relationship. Before the BRI initiative, this relationship has been in progress. Through the BRI initiative, Cambodia has managed to integrate its economy in the region and the international arena. The credit cannot be given to China alone.

Arguments of unequal distribution of power will remain because Cambodia is a small country when compared with China. Thus, there is always a potential risk for Cambodia of falling in a state where it loses its sovereignty and decision-making powers. When it supports China in the South China Sea issue, it would be subject to criticism that it is over-dependent on China economically. The government now can be criticised as a monopolised entity reinforced by China. Thus, arguments that Cambodia will support China in its economic and political objectives will continue. However, it must also be noted that Cambodia is not in a risk of debt-stress. It has managed its fiscal and monetary policies. So far, it has managed its exercise of its sovereignty. It has been receiving an increased amount of investment from China and has extracted China’s support politically with respect to the power dynamics in the Southeast Asian region. The BRI has presented Cambodia as a hub of economic connectivity and empower it to leverage this position in the ASEAN platform.

With respect to the research question, this research has found that there has been a shift of political relations between the two nations from the smaller state allegedly following a state power and from alleged bandwagoning to strategic partnership and to mutual and consensual gain-based political and economic partnership between the two. This research has found that Cambodia and China have comprehensively aligned their internal and external policies. They have prioritised their respective political position in the regional arena with respect to Cambodia and in both the regional and international arena, with respect to China. The BRI initiative is a perfect example for such prioritisation. Economic strategy may drive political decisions. However, China-Cambodia relationship is a higher level of co-ordinated, integrated and comprehensive effort. Both have adopted the gradualist economic policy while dealing with BRI initiatives. They have fostered a hierarchical and patronage system delivering mutual gains. They have developed a system that comprises not only incentive and compensation driven patronage systems but also political and diplomatic dependencies between themselves.

Order Now

The current system of relationship between the two nations shows comprehensive policy programmes that drive common development goals and complementary strategies. The best interests for the countries lie with exchanging patronages more on the line of political advantages. This patronage presents a better and advanced political economy that nations may follow for collective and individual growth. The fact, though, remains that China gives the overall security umbrella in this relationship. The BRI will deliver their objectives as long as the issue of power state and smaller state arguments do not disrupt the relationship between the two nations.

Works Cited

Attride-Stirking, J., 2001. Thematic networks: an analytic tool for qualitative research. Qualitative Research , 1(3), pp. 395-405.

Arrighi, G., 2009. Reading Hobbes in Beijing: Great power politics and the challenges of the peaceful ascent. In: M. Blyth, ed. Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy (IPE) IPE as a Global Conversation. s.l.:Taylor & Francis

Bearman, M. & Dawson, P., 2013. Qualitative synthesis and systematic review in health professions education. Medical Education, Volume 47, p. 252–260.

Bennett, M. M., 2019. Is a Pixel Worth 1000 Words? Critical Remote Sensing and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Political Geography , Volume 78, p. 1–14.

Brittan, L., 1998. Globalisation vs. Soverignty? The European Response. s.l.:Cambridge University Press.

Bulard, M., 2005. China: middle kingdom, world centre. Le Monde diplomatique .

Carmody, P., 2020. Dependence not debt-trap diplomacy. Area Development and Policy , 5(1), pp. 23-31.

Calabrese, L. & Cao, Y., 2021. Managing the Belt and Road: Agency and development in Cambodia and Myanmar. World Development , Volume 141, p. 105297.

Chandarany, O. U. C. H., Dalis, P. & Chanhang, S., 2011. Assessing China's Impact on Poverty Reduction in the Greater Mekong Sub-region: The Case of Cambodia. s.l.:Cambodia Development Resource Institute.

Chansok, L., 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative and Cambodia's infrastructure connectivity development: a Cambodian perspective. In: F. M. Cheung & Y. Hong, eds. Regional Connection under the Belt and Road Initiative: The Prospects for Economic and Financial Cooperation. s.l.:Routledge.

Chen, S. A., 2018. The development of Cambodia–China relation and its transition under the OBOR Initiative. The Chinese Economy, 51(4), pp. 370-382.

Cheung, F. M. & Hong, Y.-y., 2018. Regional Connection Under the Belt and Road Initiative The Prospects for Economic and Financial Cooperation. s.l.:Taylor & Francis.

Chheang, V., 2021. Cambodia's Embrace of China's Belt and Road Initiative: Managing Asymmetries, Maximizing Authority. Asian Perspective , 45(2), pp. 375-396.

Chheang, V. & Pheakdey, H., 2019. Cambodian Perspective on the Belt and Road Initiative. [Online] Available at: http://www.nids.mod.go.jp/english/publication/joint_research/series17/pdf/chapter01.pdf [Accessed 28 07 2021].

Chheang, V., 2017. The political economy of Chinese investment in Cambodia. s.l.:ISEAS Publishing. Chheang, V., 2017. Cambodia Embraces China’s Belt and Road Initiative. [Online] Available at: https://think-asia.org/bitstream/handle/11540/7213/ISEAS_Perspective_2017_48.pdf?sequence=1 [Accessed 22 07 2021].

Ciorciari, J. D., 2015. A Chinese model for patron-client relations?. The SinoCambodian partnership. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 15(2), pp. 245-278. Dwyer, M. B., 2020. They Will Not Automatically Benefit”: The Politics of Infrastructure Development in Laos’s Northern Economic Corridor. Political Geography , Volume 78, p. 1–12. Drache, D., Kingsmith, A. T. & Qi, D., 2019. One Road, Many Dreams China's Bold Plan to Remake the Global Economy. s.l.:Bloomsbury Publishing. Ferchen, M. & Perera, A., 2019. Why unsustainable Chinese infrastructure deals are a two-way street. Carnegie-Tsinghua center for global policy , Volume 22 . Garlick, J., 2019. The Impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative From Asia to Europe. s.l.:Taylor & Francis.

Green, S. et al., 2011. Introduction. In: J. P. T. Higgins & S. Green, eds. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions . London: John Wiley and Sons. Han, S. S. & Lim, Y., 2021. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Cambodia. In: H. W. W. L. S. S. H. B. Q. Sidh Sintusingha, ed. International Perspectives on the Belt and Road Initiative. s.l.:Routledge, pp. 164-190. Heng, K. & Po, S., 2017. Cambodia and China‟s Belt and Road Initiative: Opportunities, challenges and future directions. UC Occasional Paper Series, 1(2), pp. 1-18. Holst, J., 1985. Lilliputs and Gulliver: small states in a great-power alliance. In: G. Flynn, ed. NATO’s Northern Allies: The National Security Policies of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.. London: Croom Helm, p. 258–286. Holsti, K., 1983. International Politics: A Framework for Analysis. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

IMF, 2018. CAMBODIA: 2018 ARTICLE IV CONSULTATION—PRESS RELEASE; STAFF REPORT; STAFF STATEMENT; AND STATEMENT BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR CAMBODIA, s.l.: IMF. IMF, 2021. List of LIC DSAs for PRGT-Eligible Countries: As of June 30, 2021. [Online] Available at: https://www.imf.org/external/Pubs/ft/dsa/DSAlist.pdf [Accessed 23 07 2021]. Jones, M., 2004. Application of systematic review methods to qualitative research: practical issues.. J Adv Nurs., November, 48(3), pp. 271-278. Joshua, J., 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Economy. s.l.:Springer International Publishing. Kang, D., 2009. Between balancing and bandwagoning: South Korea’s response to China. Journal of East Asian Studies, 9(1), p. 1–28. Killick, T., 1998. Aid and the Political Economy of Policy Change. s.l.:Taylor & Francis.

Kuik, C.-C., 2008. The essence of hedging: Malaysia and Singapore’s response to a rising China. Contemporary Southeast Asia , 30(2), p. 159–185. Kusuma, S. C. W., 2009. CHINA–CAMBODIA RELATIONSHIPS: PHNOM PENH as BEIJING’S PERMANENT CLIENT STATE.". AEGIS: Journal of International Relations , 3(2). Lai, K. P., Lin, S. & Sidaway, J. D., 2020. Financing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Research agendas beyond the “debt-trap” discourse. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 61(2), pp. 109-124. Manicom, J. & O’Neil, A., 2010. Accommodation, realignment, or business as usual? Australia’s response to a rising China. The Pacific Review , 23(1), p. 23–44. Marsot, Alain-Gerard. 1969. China's Aid to Cambodia. Pacific Affairs 42(2), p. 189-198 Naughton, B., 2008. A Political Economy of China’s Economic Transition. In: L. BRANDT & T. G. RAWSKI, eds. China’s Great Economic Transformation. s.l.:Cambridge University Pres, pp. 91-135.

Opoku, A., Ahmed, V. & Akotia, J., 2016. Choosing Appropriate Methodology and Method. In: V. Ahmed, A. Opoku & Z. Aziz, eds. Research Methodology in the Built Environment: A Selection of Case Studies . Oxon: Routledge, pp. 32-50. Phal, M., 2019. CHINESE FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT IN CAMBODIA’S BUILDING CONSTRUCTION SECTOR. s.l.:LUND UNIVERSITY. Pheakdey, H., 2012. Cambodia-China relations: A positive-sum game?. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 31(2), p. 57–85. Peou, S., 2019. Cambodia in 2018: a year of setbacks and successes." Southeast Asian Affairs 2019. s.l.:ISEAS Publishing. Phea, H. D. K., 2020. CAMBODIA-CHINA RELATIONS IN THE NEW DECADE. [Online] Available at: https://www.kas.de/documents/264850/8651571/Chapter+3.pdf/92c368c0-6981-402f-e35e-36de854d86f6?version=1.1&t=1590394552511 [Accessed 28 07 2021]. Po, S. & Primiano, C. B., 2020. An “ironclad friend”: Explaining Cambodia’s bandwagoning policy towards China. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs , 39(3), pp. 444-464. Po, S. & Sims, K., 2021. The myth of non-interference: Chinese foreign policy in Cambodia. Asian Studies Review , pp. 1-19.

Reuters, 2019. Cambodian leader, in Beijing, says China pledges nearly $600 million in aid. [Online] Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cambodia-china-idUSKCN1PG0CZ [Accessed 23 07 2021]. Rippa, A., 2020. Mapping the Margins of China’s Global Ambitions: Economic Corridors, Silk Roads, and the End of Proximity in the Borderlands.”. Eurasian Geography and Economics , 61(1), p. 55–76. Robert O., K., 1986. Reciprocity in International Relations. International Organization, 40(1), pp. 1-27. Rudolf, M., 2021. China’s Health Diplomacy during Covid-19: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Action. [Online] Available at: https://www.swp-berlin.org/publications/products/comments/2021C09_ChinaHealthDiplomacy.pdf [Accessed 03 08 2021].

Sambath, P., 2018. Cambodia-China Relation: Past, Present and Futurehttps://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/51792870/China-cambodia_relation-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1627464198&Signature=CIXV7jXDfqnqBWJZBohcCuW1KYUy72oqv0PZrf8Uhsh8XzyO9flVPs-z9xZG7sR~piPdTXVVIEldwpP7x7l. [Online] Available at: https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/51792870/China-cambodia_relation-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1627464198&Signature=CIXV7jXDfqnqBWJZBohcCuW1KYUy72oqv0PZrf8Uhsh8XzyO9flVPs-z9xZG7sR~piPdTXVVIEldwpP7x7lRtdeZcxuNirdJ7ps6vnIt0q3i-epZxd2SBxOtaJaFGotTsxbw [Accessed 28 07 2021].

Sarker, M. N. I., Hossin, M. A., Yin, X. & Sarkar, M. K., 2018. One belt one road initiative of China: implication for future of global development. Modern Economy , 9(4), pp. 623-638. Scott, J., 1972. Patron-client politics and political change in Southeast Asia.. American Political Science Review, 66(1), pp. 91-113. Schweller, R., 1994. Bandwagoning for profit: bringing the revisionist state back in.. International Security, 19(1), p. 72–107. Shirk, S. L., 1993. The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China, California Series on Social Choice and Political Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press. Singh, A., 2020. The myth of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’and realities of Chinese development finance. Third World Quarterly , 42(2), pp. 239-253. Smith, R., El-Anis, I. & Farrands, C., 2014. International Political Economy in the 21st Century Contemporary Issues and Analyses. s.l.:Taylor & Francis. Soong, J., 2016. The political economy of the GMS development between China and Southeast Asian countries: Geo-economy and strategy nexus. The Chinese Economy, 49(6), p. 442–455.

Sok, M., 2016. Gives Cambodia $600M in exchange for international support.. [Online] Available at: https://www.voanews.com/a/china-gives-cambodia-millions-exchange-international-support/3421648.html [Accessed 28 07 2021]. Sokunpanha, Y., 2017. Cambodia’s Integration in Global Economic and Financial Systems. In: D. S. Udom, S. Suon & S. BULUT, eds. CAMBODIA’S FOREIGN RELATIONS IN REGIONAL AND GLOBAL CONTEXTS. s.l.:Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. Tai, W.-P. & Soong, J.-J., 2014. Trade relations between China and southeast: Asia strategy and challenge.. Chinese Economy , 47(3), pp. 23-39. The Asean Post, 2018. How China changed Sihanoukville. [Online] Available at: https://theaseanpost.com/article/how-china-changed-sihanoukville [Accessed 27 07 2021]. The World Bank, 2019. Belt and Road Economics Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors. s.l.:World Bank Publications. Young, S., 2020. China’s belt and road initiative: Patron-client and capture in Cambodia.". The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law , 8(2), pp. 414-434.

Woods, N., 2008. Whose aid? Whose influence? China, emerging donors and the silent revolution in development assistance.. International Affairs, 84(6), pp. 1205-1221. Xing, L., 2018. China's Pursuit of the "One Belt One Road" Initiative: A New World Order with Chinese Characteristics?. In: S. I. Publishing, ed. Mapping China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative . s.l.:Springer International Publishing.

Bibliography

Attride-Stirking, J., 2001. Thematic networks: an analytic tool for qualitative research. Qualitative Research , 1(3), pp. 395-405.

Arrighi, G., 2009. Reading Hobbes in Beijing: Great power politics and the challenges of the peaceful ascent. In: M. Blyth, ed. Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy (IPE) IPE as a Global Conversation. s.l.:Taylor & Francis

Bearman, M. & Dawson, P., 2013. Qualitative synthesis and systematic review in health professions education. Medical Education, Volume 47, p. 252–260.

Bennett, M. M., 2019. Is a Pixel Worth 1000 Words? Critical Remote Sensing and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Political Geography , Volume 78, p. 1–14.

Brittan, L., 1998. Globalisation vs. Soverignty? The European Response. s.l.:Cambridge University Press.

Bulard, M., 2005. China: middle kingdom, world centre. Le Monde diplomatique .

Carmody, P., 2020. Dependence not debt-trap diplomacy. Area Development and Policy , 5(1), pp. 23-31.

Calabrese, L. & Cao, Y., 2021. Managing the Belt and Road: Agency and development in Cambodia and Myanmar. World Development , Volume 141, p. 105297.

Chandarany, O. U. C. H., Dalis, P. & Chanhang, S., 2011. Assessing China's Impact on Poverty Reduction in the Greater Mekong Sub-region: The Case of Cambodia. s.l.:Cambodia Development Resource Institute.

Chansok, L., 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative and Cambodia's infrastructure connectivity development: a Cambodian perspective. In: F. M. Cheung & Y. Hong, eds. Regional Connection under the Belt and Road Initiative: The Prospects for Economic and Financial Cooperation. s.l.:Routledge.

Chen, S. A., 2018. The development of Cambodia–China relation and its transition under the OBOR Initiative. The Chinese Economy, 51(4), pp. 370-382.

Cheung, F. M. & Hong, Y.-y., 2018. Regional Connection Under the Belt and Road Initiative The Prospects for Economic and Financial Cooperation. s.l.:Taylor & Francis.

Chheang, V., 2021. Cambodia's Embrace of China's Belt and Road Initiative: Managing Asymmetries, Maximizing Authority. Asian Perspective , 45(2), pp. 375-396.

Chheang, V. & Pheakdey, H., 2019. Cambodian Perspective on the Belt and Road Initiative. [Online] Available at: http://www.nids.mod.go.jp/english/publication/joint_research/series17/pdf/chapter01.pdf [Accessed 28 07 2021].

Chheang, V., 2017. The political economy of Chinese investment in Cambodia. s.l.:ISEAS Publishing.

Chheang, V., 2017. Cambodia Embraces China’s Belt and Road Initiative. [Online] Available at: https://think-asia.org/bitstream/handle/11540/7213/ISEAS_Perspective_2017_48.pdf?sequence=1 [Accessed 22 07 2021].

Ciorciari, J. D., 2015. A Chinese model for patron-client relations?. The SinoCambodian partnership. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 15(2), pp. 245-278.

Dosch, J. 2010. The Fallacy of Multilateralism Rhetoric in China-Southeast Asia Relations-A Neo-realist Perspective on Regional Order-Building. Revista UNISCI 24, pp 135-152.

Dwyer, M. B., 2020. They Will Not Automatically Benefit”: The Politics of Infrastructure Development in Laos’s Northern Economic Corridor. Political Geography , Volume 78, p. 1–12.

Drache, D., Kingsmith, A. T. & Qi, D., 2019. One Road, Many Dreams China's Bold Plan to Remake the Global Economy. s.l.:Bloomsbury Publishing.

Ellison, H J. 1987. Changing Sino-Soviet Relations. Probs. Communism 36, p 17.

Ferchen, M. & Perera, A., 2019. Why unsustainable Chinese infrastructure deals are a two-way street. Carnegie-Tsinghua center for global policy , Volume 22 .

Garlick, J., 2019. The Impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative From Asia to Europe. s.l.:Taylor & Francis.

Green, S. et al., 2011. Introduction. In: J. P. T. Higgins & S. Green, eds. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions . London: John Wiley and Sons.

Han, S. S. & Lim, Y., 2021. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Cambodia. In: H. W. W. L. S. S. H. B. Q. Sidh Sintusingha, ed. International Perspectives on the Belt and Road Initiative. s.l.:Routledge, pp. 164-190.

Heng, K. & Po, S., 2017. Cambodia and China‟s Belt and Road Initiative: Opportunities, challenges and future directions. UC Occasional Paper Series, 1(2), pp. 1-18.

Holst, J., 1985. Lilliputs and Gulliver: small states in a great-power alliance. In: G. Flynn, ed. NATO’s Northern Allies: The National Security Policies of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.. London: Croom Helm, p. 258–286.

Holsti, K., 1983. International Politics: A Framework for Analysis. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

IMF, 2018. CAMBODIA: 2018 ARTICLE IV CONSULTATION—PRESS RELEASE; STAFF REPORT; STAFF STATEMENT; AND STATEMENT BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR CAMBODIA, s.l.: IMF.

IMF, 2021. List of LIC DSAs for PRGT-Eligible Countries: As of June 30, 2021. [Online] Available at: https://www.imf.org/external/Pubs/ft/dsa/DSAlist.pdf [Accessed 23 07 2021].

Jones, M., 2004. Application of systematic review methods to qualitative research: practical issues.. J Adv Nurs., November, 48(3), pp. 271-278.

Joshua, J., 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Economy. s.l.:Springer International Publishing.

Kang, D., 2009. Between balancing and bandwagoning: South Korea’s response to China. Journal of East Asian Studies, 9(1), p. 1–28.

Keskinen, M, Mehtonen, K, & Varis, O.2008. Transboundary cooperation vs. internal ambitions: the role of China and Cambodia in the Mekong region. International water security: domestic threats and opportunities, pp 79-109.

Khattak, AK & Iram Khalid. 2013. China’s One Belt One Road Initiative: Towards Mutual Peace & Development. Journal of Research Society of Pakistan 54(1), pp 1-20.

Killick, T., 1998. Aid and the Political Economy of Policy Change. s.l.:Taylor & Francis.

Kosal, L. 2009. Sino-Cambodia Relations. Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace.

Kuik, C.-C., 2008. The essence of hedging: Malaysia and Singapore’s response to a rising China. Contemporary Southeast Asia , 30(2), p. 159–185.

Kusuma, S. C. W., 2009. CHINA–CAMBODIA RELATIONSHIPS: PHNOM PENH as BEIJING’S PERMANENT CLIENT STATE.". AEGIS: Journal of International Relations , 3(2).

Lai, K. P., Lin, S. & Sidaway, J. D., 2020. Financing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Research agendas beyond the “debt-trap” discourse. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 61(2), pp. 109-124.

Ly, B. 2018. How China influence Cambodia from the past to the present for the case of politics, diplomacy, military and economic relations perspective. MRPA.

Manicom, J. & O’Neil, A., 2010. Accommodation, realignment, or business as usual? Australia’s response to a rising China. The Pacific Review , 23(1), p. 23–44.

Naughton, B., 2008. A Political Economy of China’s Economic Transition. In: L. BRANDT & T. G. RAWSKI, eds. China’s Great Economic Transformation. s.l.:Cambridge University Pres, pp. 91-135.

Opoku, A., Ahmed, V. & Akotia, J., 2016. Choosing Appropriate Methodology and Method. In: V. Ahmed, A. Opoku & Z. Aziz, eds. Research Methodology in the Built Environment: A Selection of Case Studies . Oxon: Routledge, pp. 32-50.

Phal, M., 2019. CHINESE FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT IN CAMBODIA’S BUILDING CONSTRUCTION SECTOR. s.l.:LUND UNIVERSITY.

Pheakdey, H., 2012. Cambodia-China relations: A positive-sum game?. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 31(2), p. 57–85.

Peou, S., 2019. Cambodia in 2018: a year of setbacks and successes." Southeast Asian Affairs 2019. s.l.:ISEAS Publishing.

Phea, H. D. K., 2020. CAMBODIA-CHINA RELATIONS IN THE NEW DECADE. [Online] Available at: https://www.kas.de/documents/264850/8651571/Chapter+3.pdf/92c368c0-6981-402f-e35e-36de854d86f6?version=1.1&t=1590394552511 [Accessed 28 07 2021].

Po, S. & Primiano, C. B., 2020. An “ironclad friend”: Explaining Cambodia’s bandwagoning policy towards China. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs , 39(3), pp. 444-464.

Reuters, 2019. Cambodian leader, in Beijing, says China pledges nearly $600 million in aid. [Online] Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cambodia-china-idUSKCN1PG0CZ [Accessed 23 07 2021].

Richardson, S.D. 2005. China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: Principles and Foreign Policy. University of Virginia.

Rippa, A., 2020. Mapping the Margins of China’s Global Ambitions: Economic Corridors, Silk Roads, and the End of Proximity in the Borderlands.”. Eurasian Geography and Economics , 61(1), p. 55–76.

Robert O., K., 1986. Reciprocity in International Relations. International Organization, 40(1), pp. 1-27.

Sambath, P., 2018. Cambodia-China Relation: Past, Present and Futurehttps://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/51792870/China-cambodia_relation-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1627464198&Signature=CIXV7jXDfqnqBWJZBohcCuW1KYUy72oqv0PZrf8Uhsh8XzyO9flVPs-z9xZG7sR~piPdTXVVIEldwpP7x7l. [Online] Available at: https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/51792870/China-cambodia_relation-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1627464198&Signature=CIXV7jXDfqnqBWJZBohcCuW1KYUy72oqv0PZrf8Uhsh8XzyO9flVPs-z9xZG7sR~piPdTXVVIEldwpP7x7lRtdeZcxuNirdJ7ps6vnIt0q3i-epZxd2SBxOtaJaFGotTsxbw [Accessed 28 07 2021].

Sarker, M. N. I., Hossin, M. A., Yin, X. & Sarkar, M. K., 2018. One belt one road initiative of China: implication for future of global development. Modern Economy , 9(4), pp. 623-638.

Scott, J., 1972. Patron-client politics and political change in Southeast Asia.. American Political Science Review, 66(1), pp. 91-113.

Schweller, R., 1994. Bandwagoning for profit: bringing the revisionist state back in.. International Security, 19(1), p. 72–107.

Shirk, S. L., 1993. The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China, California Series on Social Choice and Political Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Singh, A., 2020. The myth of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’and realities of Chinese development finance. Third World Quarterly , 42(2), pp. 239-253.

Smith, R., El-Anis, I. & Farrands, C., 2014. International Political Economy in the 21st Century Contemporary Issues and Analyses. s.l.:Taylor & Francis.

Soong, J., 2016. The political economy of the GMS development between China and Southeast Asian countries: Geo-economy and strategy nexus. The Chinese Economy, 49(6), p. 442–455.

Soong, JJ. 2018. China’s one belt and one road initiative meets ASEAN economic community: Propelling and deepening regional economic integration?, pp 291-297.

Sok, M., 2016. Gives Cambodia $600M in exchange for international support.. [Online] Available at: https://www.voanews.com/a/china-gives-cambodia-millions-exchange-international-support/3421648.html [Accessed 28 07 2021].

Sokunpanha, Y., 2017. Cambodia’s Integration in Global Economic and Financial Systems. In: D. S. Udom, S. Suon & S. BULUT, eds. CAMBODIA’S FOREIGN RELATIONS IN REGIONAL AND GLOBAL CONTEXTS. s.l.:Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

Tai, W.-P. & Soong, J.-J., 2014. Trade relations between China and southeast: Asia strategy and challenge.. Chinese Economy , 47(3), pp. 23-39.

The Asean Post, 2018. How China changed Sihanoukville. [Online] Available at: https://theaseanpost.com/article/how-china-changed-sihanoukville [Accessed 27 07 2021].

The World Bank, 2019. Belt and Road Economics Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors. s.l.:World Bank Publications.

Young, S., 2020. China’s belt and road initiative: Patron-client and capture in Cambodia.". The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law , 8(2), pp. 414-434.

Woods, N., 2008. Whose aid? Whose influence? China, emerging donors and the silent revolution in development assistance.. International Affairs, 84(6), pp. 1205-1221.

Xing, L., 2018. China's Pursuit of the "One Belt One Road" Initiative: A New World Order with Chinese Characteristics?. In: S. I. Publishing, ed. Mapping China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative . s.l.:Springer International Publishing.

Zou, L. 2018. The political economy of China’s Belt and Road initiative. World Scientific.

Sitejabber
Google Review
Yell

What Makes Us Unique

  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • 100% Customer Satisfaction
  • No Privacy Violation
  • Quick Services
  • Subject Experts

Research Proposal Samples

DISCLAIMER : The assignment help samples available on website are for review and are representative of the exceptional work provided by our assignment writers. These samples are intended to highlight and demonstrate the high level of proficiency and expertise exhibited by our assignment writers in crafting quality assignments. Feel free to use our assignment samples as a guiding resource to enhance your learning.

X
Welcome to Dissertation Home Work Whatsapp Support. Ask us anything 🎉
Hello Mark, I visited your website Dissertation Home Work. and I am interested in assignment/dissertation services. Thank you.
Chat with us