In the first half of 2019, ASEAN became China’s second largest trading partner overtaking the United States for the first time since 1997. The Bilateral trade China/ASEAN represents 1.98 Trillions Yuan +10.5 % compare to 2018.
Other regional initiative such as the Regional comprehensive Economic partnership “RCEP” one of the largest trading bloc boost trade and economic integration between ASEAN and six other partners and also with the Lancang Mekong Cooperation mechanism .In Cambodia ,the Belt and Road initiative “BRI” has been a driving force to connect with neighbors countries and regional integration.
China is the major investor in the infrastructure such as road constructions (+2,000 km), hydro-power plants and bridges. Railways between Cambodia-Thailand and Vietnam are in progress.
More than 3,000 Chinese companies have invested in the garment and textile sector, which accounts for 80% of all exports and employs about half a million Cambodians.In 2023 for the South East Asian Games , 100 Million dollars has been put to build the new Olympic Stadium.This has been supported by a long term and excellent relations back centuries with the People Republic of China.(April 1955 Conference of Bundung between Premier Zhou Enlai & Prince Sihanouk)
Nevertheless some limitations are existing : the “BRI” depends on many diplomatic agreements and economic compromises which are not easy to secure in the long term.The complexity is increasing when you understand other countries infrastuctures initiatives such as in India, Republik of Korea and Japan.Also Asean centrality has been diminished with the South China Sea dispute. In Cambodia physical infrastructures such as ports,rails and roads are not sufficient , high electricity and transportation cost ( additionally with the lack of skilled labor ) constraints the development of the Maritime silk road ( Cambodia having a geostrategic location within the Indo-China sea context )
China, Cambodia and ASEAN members state need to work cooperatively strengthening cultural , agricultural and tourism exchange.Indeed tourism between China and Cambodia has been good forecasting 8 Millions Chinese visitors in 2030 .
One of the constructive outcome that "BRI" shall advance is to share responsibility and equal benefits for everyone during key projects focusing on people to people relations and trust building.Last but not least an another era of the BRI is named as the “Digital Silk Road” such as cyber connectivity, technologies and innovation to advance e-trade.