Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has hailed Morodok Techo National Stadium as another new milestone in the “ironclad friendship” between his country and China after the venue was handed over yesterday (Sunday).

China has bankrolled the $150m (£108.4m/€127.1m) investment in the 60,000-capacity stadium in Phnom Penh as its biggest-ever infrastructure grant to the country. The project is just the latest element of China’s trillion-dollar ‘Belt and Road’ strategy, a venture to curry favour overseas through funding infrastructure projects.

Construction on the project had been completed last month, with work having initially commenced in 2017. Morodok Techo National Stadium is part of a larger sporting project, the Morodok Techo National Sports Complex, and will be the main venue for football and athletics in Cambodia.

It has been developed as the key venue for the staging of the Southeast Asian Games in 2023. It will be the first time that Cambodia has staged the Games, despite having been a participant since 1961. IPPR International Engineering Corporation was responsible for the design of the venue, and the contractor was China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

The venue is based 10km north of downtown Phnom Penh in the Chroy Changvar District. Morodok Techo National Stadium is designed to resemble a sailing ship, symbolising the two nations’ long-standing friendship as Chinese people used to travel to Cambodia by boat, officials said at yesterday’s event.

It is surrounded by a moat that has been inspired by the body of water encompassing the Angkor Wat temple complex. In recent years, Hun Sen has received criticism over his reliance on support from Beijing, but he defended the relationship yesterday, stating China was a “trusted and respected friend”.

“Have I made a mistake in contacting our friend China when we have achieved such results?” he asked, referring to the stadium, according to the AFP news agency. “This is another new milestone in the ironclad friendship between Cambodia and China.”

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