China’s ‘No Strings’ Aid Increasingly Attractive

The timing couldn’t have been better. After a week in which one NGO was suspended and others warned to “readjust their work,” and the World Bank was finally forced to reveal that it had stopped loaning to Cambodia, the government announced over the weekend that China would be sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into trade and aid… Foreign Affairs have not shared details on the 29 deals signed with Beijing, the timing of the agreements is nonetheless symbolic. with that single signing ceremony on Saturday, the government has demonstrated to its Untac-ear development partners that times have certainly changed in Phnom Penh. After years of rapid expansion here on all fronts, China is now poised to be the country’s largest “development” partner… But as Chinese loans, investments and genuine aid pour into Cambodia, the disconnect between the disbursement stipulations made by Beijing and those of Phnom Penh’s more traditionally reform-oriented “development partners” is stark… The latest deal with China also comes on the heels of a bold announcement by Minister of Finance Keat Chhon that the government would be indefinitely postponing November’s donor meeting. The meeting, a longstanding get-together between officials and donors, was a very public opportunity for the country’s aid providers to weigh the government’s performance on a raft of reform benchmarks and pledge money to the country for the year ahead.