Field notes

Chinese-built Cambodian resort stirs geopolitical tensions

The luxury resort has the sun, the sea, golfing facilities, a casino, an airport and a deep-sea port. But the US is worried it will become a military base - a claim that has been denied.

KIRI SAKOR (Cambodia) • Crouching on a verge with a shovel in hand, 21-year-old Phan Mai uproots flowering shrubs for replanting. Her wide-brimmed hat provides little shield from the sun in this sprawling resort, shorn of the trees that once stood in Cambodia's largest national park.

Just around the corner, past a bridge with representations of mythical serpents moulded into the parapet, Chinese workers swarm over half-built faux European-style and contemporary villas. Above, the roar of helicopter rotor blades brings yet another group of Chinese guests who, on landing, are then ferried by golf carts into air-conditioned comfort.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2019, with the headline 'Chinese-built Cambodian resort stirs geopolitical tensions'. Print Edition | Subscribe