Sino-Cambodian joint venture changes lives for the better

By LIN SHUJUAN in Sihanoukville, Cambodia | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-07-04 07:18
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Special economic zone home to scores of enterprises from around world

A joint venture between Chinese and Cambodian enterprises launched 15 years ago has already had a profound impact on the Cambodian economy and local people's lives.

To many people in Cambodia, the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, or SSEZ, is somewhat surreal, as the area in which it is located used to be nothing more than a vast wilderness.

Now, the 11.13 square kilometer SSEZ, located in Sihanoukville's Prey Nob District, is Cambodia's largest industrial park and home to 175 enterprises from around the world.

Jointly developed by private companies from Cambodia and China, the zone is considered a landmark Belt and Road Initiative collaboration project between the two nations.

Since it was launched, the zone's import and export volume has experienced significant growth, rising from $139 million in 2013 to nearly $2.5 billion last year.

Xiao Jianxin, assistant brand manager at Hodo Group, a leading Chinese private textile and garment maker based in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, and a key investor in the zone, is among those who have witnessed every step of the SSEZ's development since it was set up in 2008.

"This place was literally built from scratch," the 41-year-old said during his latest visit to the zone in mid-May.

"Apart from a nearby fishing village where a few hundred locals lived in straw huts, this area had nothing — no electricity, no running water, no roads," Xiao said.

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