Sihanoukville Rebuilding



Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Chinese investors’ five-year plan to turn Sihanoukville, a small coastal resort with beautiful beaches, into a gambling mecca rivalling Macao and Las Vegas, was thwarted by a prohibition on internet gambling and the COVID-19 outbreak.

More than 200,000 Chinese workers had to return home.

Casinos were closed, and still-in-progress condo, resort, and tower projects were given up. A media site that supports the government said the remaining skyline is “a stark reminder of botched investments, mostly by Chinese nationals.”

The property market in Cambodia has decreased by as much as 90% recently, according to the country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Like many small private businessmen, Chantha Lach told VOA that he was hoping for better economic circumstances and international investment.

Many Cambodians want the Chinese investor to return due to the appalling home costs. To aid in the market’s recovery, we want the Chinese businesspeople to come home, he said. As a result, Sihanoukville is being cleaned up of more than 1,100 incomplete buildings, and Cambodia is creating an action plan. One option is to increase the indigenous population by thrice to one million, while also making it simpler for foreigners to obtain visas and giving tax breaks to Cambodia’s expanding middle class.

Authorities are also considering giving developers until 2026 to complete any unfinished projects, failing which they would be subject to a demolition order.

One of the main issues is getting these incomplete projects, which are dispersed around Sihanoukville city, ready for construction, said David Totten, general director of the Phnom Penh-based investment company Emerging Markets Consulting. “There must be a process for verifying that, therefore. The speaker pointed out that in other situations, that would mean razing the current structure and starting over from scratch. Totten stated that there are disagreements about who is accountable for what and under what conditions in 50% of the unfinished buildings that have been abandoned or suspended.

“A significant portion of those may have ambiguous ownership, and the legal entities that are the beneficial owners of those projects may no longer exist or be relatively inactive,” he claimed.It will be very difficult to get those properties back from the prior owners.

Investors are gradually returning.

Approximately 30 kilometres east of Sihanoukville, the disputed Ream Naval Base is receiving a substantial refurbishment that is being funded by China. The Chinese government is acting more aggressively on its disputed claims to the South China Sea, and the US is concerned that Beijing’s military presence in Southeast Asia may grow as a result of the project.

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