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Sihanoukville Autonomous Port is now one of the fastest-growing ports in the region and is undergoing expansion under Japanese aid. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)
Company in focus

Cambodia's biggest port sees China coveting Japan's dominant role

Fast-growing Sihanoukville harbor thrives amid Tokyo-Beijing rivalry

KENJI KAWASE, Nikkei Asian Review chief business news correspondent | Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia -- Once a tranquil seaside enclave in southwestern Cambodia, Sihanoukville, or Kompong Som, has turned into a paradise for Chinese investors in recent years. Casinos, hotels, restaurants, massage parlors and supermarkets are festooned in signs in Chinese. More buildings are under construction, fueled by an incessant inflow of Chinese money and people.

Although the city, 220 km southwest of the capital Phnom Penh and named after the country's late king, is becoming a Chinese outpost, the key feature that makes Sihanoukville shine -- the only deep-water seaport in the country -- remains out of Beijing's reach.

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