Chinese to build $1.2-billion “vacation town” in Cambodia from scratch

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Chinese developer Tianjin Union Development Group has unveiled plans for yet another project called “Tourism Vacation Town” in Cambodia that will cost $1.2 billion to be built on an area stretching over 1,200 hectares at the country’s southern shoreline. It will be constructed in Kho Kong province where Union Development is already constructing another $3.8-billion resort, named Dara Sakor.

Both projects are located  at the southern tip of a peninsula covered by Botum Sakor National Park which has a very rich and varied wildlife, with more than a few species listed as critically endangered. The exact location of the new project has not been revealed yet, however.

Union Development was given a 99-year lease for land in Koh Kong to build Dara Sakor, which is expected to feature a port as well as attractions such as casinos. Many villagers have allegedly been displaced by the project, with some launching protests against what they said were unlawful “land grabs.”

Overall, Union Development, a subsidiary of state-owned Chinese real estate developer Wanlong Group, holds a 45,000-hectare land concession in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.

The new project, “Tourism Vacation Village” was presented via the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce’s Facebook page on September 3. The announcement said that the company plans to build a completely new town, consisting of a five-star hotel, modern condominiums, commercial office buildings and a resort. Except from information that construction is expected to begin early next year, not many more details about the project have been made public. A model of the “vacation town” is expected to be presented at the China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning on September 12-16.

The news came amid a surge of China-backed development projects along Cambodia’s southern coast. Most are aimed at the growing number of tourists from China flocking into the country.

The new tourism town is located just opposite Cambodia’s beach resort of Sikanoukville across Kompong Som bay. Sihanoukville, which is currently radically transformed by Chinese construction projects, has seen property prices skyrocket due to the growing interest by Chinese investors. Real estate sources report that land parcels in some areas have nearly doubled in price over the last few years. The developments have pushed out many locals and significantly decimated their culture in area, as well as reduced the number of non-Chinese tourists.

But Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen sees Chinese investment as vital for his country’s development, and such issues have not deterred him from embracing Beijing. With Hun’s ties with the European Union and many western countries fraying following his controversial election win in July, branded undemocratic by critics, he has welcomed both political and financial support from China.

China, on its part, is seeking to gain wider access to ports in Cambodia to broaden its maritime trade routes and intensify support for territory claims in disputed areas.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Chinese developer Tianjin Union Development Group has unveiled plans for yet another project called “Tourism Vacation Town” in Cambodia that will cost $1.2 billion to be built on an area stretching over 1,200 hectares at the country’s southern shoreline. It will be constructed in Kho Kong province where Union Development is already constructing another $3.8-billion resort, named Dara Sakor.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Chinese developer Tianjin Union Development Group has unveiled plans for yet another project called “Tourism Vacation Town” in Cambodia that will cost $1.2 billion to be built on an area stretching over 1,200 hectares at the country’s southern shoreline. It will be constructed in Kho Kong province where Union Development is already constructing another $3.8-billion resort, named Dara Sakor.

Both projects are located  at the southern tip of a peninsula covered by Botum Sakor National Park which has a very rich and varied wildlife, with more than a few species listed as critically endangered. The exact location of the new project has not been revealed yet, however.

Union Development was given a 99-year lease for land in Koh Kong to build Dara Sakor, which is expected to feature a port as well as attractions such as casinos. Many villagers have allegedly been displaced by the project, with some launching protests against what they said were unlawful “land grabs.”

Overall, Union Development, a subsidiary of state-owned Chinese real estate developer Wanlong Group, holds a 45,000-hectare land concession in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.

The new project, “Tourism Vacation Village” was presented via the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce’s Facebook page on September 3. The announcement said that the company plans to build a completely new town, consisting of a five-star hotel, modern condominiums, commercial office buildings and a resort. Except from information that construction is expected to begin early next year, not many more details about the project have been made public. A model of the “vacation town” is expected to be presented at the China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning on September 12-16.

The news came amid a surge of China-backed development projects along Cambodia’s southern coast. Most are aimed at the growing number of tourists from China flocking into the country.

The new tourism town is located just opposite Cambodia’s beach resort of Sikanoukville across Kompong Som bay. Sihanoukville, which is currently radically transformed by Chinese construction projects, has seen property prices skyrocket due to the growing interest by Chinese investors. Real estate sources report that land parcels in some areas have nearly doubled in price over the last few years. The developments have pushed out many locals and significantly decimated their culture in area, as well as reduced the number of non-Chinese tourists.

But Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen sees Chinese investment as vital for his country’s development, and such issues have not deterred him from embracing Beijing. With Hun’s ties with the European Union and many western countries fraying following his controversial election win in July, branded undemocratic by critics, he has welcomed both political and financial support from China.

China, on its part, is seeking to gain wider access to ports in Cambodia to broaden its maritime trade routes and intensify support for territory claims in disputed areas.

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