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SSEZ, the special bond between Wuxi and Preah Sihanouk

Updated : 2021-12-20
(chinadaily.com.cn)

An online work conference focusing on the upgrading of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) in Preah Sihanouk Province, Cambodia, was held in Wuxi, Jiangsu province of East China, on Dec 17.

Founded and constructed mainly by Hodo Group – a garment giant based in Wuxi, the zone is the only special economic zone recognized by both the Chinese and Cambodian governments, boasting the top GDP ranking in Cambodia.

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An aerial photo of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The meeting set up three sub-venues, attended by high-ranking officials from Wuxi city and Preah Sihanouk Province, as well as representatives from manufacturing, medical, and educational sectors.

China is Cambodia's biggest trading partner. The two countries have a strong bond with intensive imports and exports and investment activities.

Located at the Indo-China Peninsula, Cambodia was an integral part of Marinetime Silk Road during ancient times. Now it is proactively participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Wuxi has had friendly exchanges with Sihanoukville city for the last 12 years since the two cities have confirmed the sister-city relationship.

According to Zhou Haijiang, board chairman of Hodo Group, SSEZ is home to 170 enterprises from China, Europe, America and Southeast Asia, with new breakthroughs made in foreign trade. The imports and exports from January to November this year have amounted to $2 billion, up 40.03 percent year-on-year.

Wuxi also benefits from SSEZ. The six Wuxi-based firms at the zone involve a total investment of $24.5 million and register annual sales over $35 million as said by Cao Wenbin, director of Wuxi Development and Reform Commission, in his keynote speech at the conference.

In addition to trade and business, Wuxi's assistance to Preah Sihanouk has extended to medical care, social security, public infrastructure and education, which are of the locals' daily concerns. To date, Wuxi has sent over 40 medical staff and experts to serve local residents of Preah Sihanouk.

By sending masks, rubbing alcohol, sanitizers and other protective supplies, Wuxi has supported Cambodia in effectively containing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Sihanoukville Institute of Business and Technology jointly launched by Hodo Group and Wuxi Vocational Institute of Commerce back in 2018 is the area's first Chinese university, offering training programs to more than 15,000 staff members from SSEZ every year.

These moves demonstrate Wuxi's willingness to aid in the development of the BRI partners, as well as its awareness of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Three projects were signed during the conference, one for tire manufacturing, the second for a sister school construction, and the last for the construction of a China-Cambodia employee cultural activity center. A remote medical consultation program was also launched during the event.

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