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Belt and Road

In Cambodia, even debt-free roads lead to more Chinese influence

Beijing-funded $2bn expressway raises questions about costs and benefits

China has been investing in Cambodia's Sihanoukville, which will soon be linked to Phnom Penh with an expressway funded entirely by a Chinese state company.   © Reuters

PHNOM PENH -- A Chinese state construction company is building Cambodia's first expressway -- without saddling the Southeast Asian country with a pile of new debt.

The arrangement will help China avoid international accusations of predatory lending to developing countries, which have dogged its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. But some skeptics say the expressway is just another way for Beijing to extend its influence, and that there might be more to the story than what has been revealed.

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