Survey tells what’s “China in Young Eyes” of Cambodia

The Chinese-funded enterprises have played an important role in improving local people’s livelihood in Cambodia, according to the results of a new survey released this week.

Entitled “China in Young Eyes,” the survey was conducted in 2021 by the Center for Cambodian Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Research Center of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, with support from China Huaneng Group.

It interviewed a total of 342 Cambodian youths, who are mainly undergraduates and postgraduates from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Royal University of Law and Economics, as well as researchers from the Royal Academy of Cambodia, independent think tanks and some social personages.

The top 10 keywords describing the China-Cambodia relations in the survey are Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), special economic zone, Chinese-developed vaccines, Chinese companies, expressways, hydropower stations, investment, Chinese language, “iron-clad friends” and job opportunities.

“The survey results show that Cambodian youth generally believe that China is a responsible big country pursuing peaceful development, and Chinese-funded enterprises have played an important role in improving local people’s livelihood,” said a joint press release.

The BRI and the special economic zone are the top two keywords for Cambodian youths to describe the current Cambodia-China relations.

“Some 69.29 percent of the young Cambodians interviewed positively commented on the positive role played by Chinese-funded enterprises in Cambodia’s economic development, and more than 70 percent of the respondents expressed their willingness to work in Chinese-funded enterprises,” the news release said.

It added that the entry into force of the China-Cambodia Free Trade Agreement in January this year has provided new opportunities for deepening mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

More than 60 percent of the respondents gave a positive response to Chinese investment and wanted to see more Chinese companies investing in the Southeast Asian nation.

The survey also found that China has become one of the most desirable destinations for Cambodian youth to study abroad, and the economy, science and technology, politics, and Chinese are the priority professional directions for Cambodian youth to study in China.

In addition, China is also one of the most popular destinations for Cambodian youth to travel abroad, the survey showed, adding that the pragmatic cooperation and cultural exchanges between China and Cambodia have been carried out in depth, which has greatly promoted Chinese education in Cambodia.

“Cambodian youth interviewed generally believe that learning Chinese is conducive to employment,” the news release said. “Most Cambodian youth also recognize the importance of Chinese-style poverty alleviation experience in help Cambodia eradicate poverty.”

Neak Chandarith, director of the Cambodia 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Research Center, said the survey results showed positive perceptions among Cambodian youths towards China and revealed the significance of Chinese-funded enterprises in helping boost Cambodia’s economy.

“It is true that Chinese-invested projects under the BRI such as the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, hydropower plants, Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, new Siem Reap International Airport, roads, and bridges, among others have played and will continue to play a crucial role in supporting the kingdom’s economy in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era,” he told Xinhua on Thursday.

“I think that the BRI projects here will help Cambodia achieve its ambitious goal of becoming an upper-middle income country by 2030 and a high-income country in 2050,” Chandarith added. Xinhua