Expats desert Sihanoukville after Chinese takeover

Published:  29 Oct at 6 PM
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Expats are leaving Sihanoukville in droves as the Chinese takeover continues with crime, pollution, cancelled leases and much more.

Until recently, Sihanoukville was a charming beachside hub popular both with Western and Cambodian tourists as well as with expatriates arriving from the West or from neighbouring countries whose immigration rules were being tightened up. The town had everything from a selection of beautiful beaches, guesthouses, little local restaurants and bars, reasonably priced rentals and a few expat developers who designed and built homes for new arrivals.

Fast forward to 2018 and the change is tragic and devastating for both locals and expatriates, especially those who’d arrived looking for the perfect spot for a peaceful retirement. Massive, unthinking redevelopment, mostly of casinos now reputedly totalling over 50, along with skyscrapers and hotels, all resulting in the ruin of the town,

Formerly pristine beaches are now polluted with trash and free-flowing sewage, and Chinese incomers now number around 100,000, most of whom were brought in from China and employed in construction. Rumours suggest many have been brought in straight from Chinese prisons and put to work, and local residents say most are uneducated.

Tourism is reported to be all but dead, and expats in rental accommodation are now having their contracts cancelled and are being forced to leave. The cost of living is soaring, with local residents now finding it difficult to make ends meet. Crime rates have also soared, with sex trafficking and drug dealing now a major problem and shoot-outs reputedly occurring. The main attraction for China is Sihanoukville’s port, the only sizeable facility along the coast, but the local people now feel the town is no longer theirs, saying it belongs to the Chinese.
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