Sihanoukville won’t be second Macau, army chief warns

A senior Cambodian military leader has warned that he won’t allow the seaside province of Sihanoukville to become a second Macau, responding to reports of growing hostility to the rising number of Chinese tourists and casino investors.

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces chief of joint staff Hun Manet was cited by local media as saying that Sihanoukville should preserve its unique identity as a tourist destination and not become a casino destination.

He made the comments on Monday during a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the Jing Gang Hotel in Sihanoukville.

“I agree to explore potential investments over the long term, but I do not agree to allow Sihanoukville to be like Macau,” he was reported as saying. “Sihanoukville must become a city with its own unique identity.”

The surge of Chinese investment into Sihanoukville, mostly into hotels and casinos has lead to a local backlash amidst concern about the loss of jobs for locals and rising crime rates.

Last month, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, Xiong Bo, addressed the issue, saying Beijing would cooperate with Cambodia to fight illegal activities involving Chinese nationals.

Since 2011 until October 2017, a total of 1,133 Chinese nationals, including 222 women, were deported to China for offences related to cybercrime, the report said.

Last year the province welcomed almost two million tourists, including 470,000 foreigners. Of the total number of foreign arrivals, nearly 120,000 were Chinese, an increase of 126 percent year-on-year.

The Cambodian coast has been described as one of the hottest spots in Asia’s developing tourism market.