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Cambodian Opposition Criticize Dependence on Chinese Aid


Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) stretches to shake hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 7, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee/POOL

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) stretches to shake hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 7, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee/POOL

Cambodian opposition members say they are worried about the country becoming too dependent on aid money from China.

The Chinese government recently promised more than $500 million in aid for Cambodia. Cambodian officials need about one billion dollars in foreign aid each year to operate the government. The government has a foreign debt of about nine billion dollars.

Son Chhay is with the Cambodia National Rescue Party. He says opposition officials worry about Cambodia owing large amounts of money to foreign countries, including China. He says the debt could slow Cambodia’s economic growth.

He says that, if Cambodia depends on aid money to be able to govern the country, Cambodians could lose part of their economic independence.

Critics also say the aid money should be spent in a more open, transparent manner.

Sok Touch is with Khemarak University in Phnom Penh. He says the Chinese aid comes with “no strings attached” -- meaning China does not expect anything in return. He adds that the aid has no requirements for reform, such as in human rights or the judiciary system, like Western aid does.

A government spokesman says Cambodia is strengthening its economy. Spokesman Phay Siphan says roads, bridges, electricity and water have been major concerns. He says the government will now be more concerned about human resources. He adds that Cambodia needs foreign aid for investments. He adds that such help will make the country more competitive internationally.

But Son Chhay says the country can do with less aid if it does a better job of collecting taxes and stopping corruption by government officials.

I’m Mario Ritter.

*This report was based on a story from reporter Sok Khemara. George Grow wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

opposition - n. a group of people set up to defeat someone or something

dependent - v. needing help or support

aid - n. help, assistance

foreign - adj., of, about or from another nation; not from one’s own place or country

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