China Just Gifted Cambodia a New $150 Million Stadium: Photos

  • China has gifted Cambodia a $150 million sporting stadium outside Phnom Penh.
  • Designed to pay homage to Cambodian culture, the stadium is five stories tall and can seat 60,000 people.
  • It’s the latest in China’s “stadium diplomacy” strategy of giving out sporting venues in exchange for influence.

Cambodia has received the keys to a brand new, $150 million stadium from China, the latest country to be gifted such a project as Beijing tries to build influence worldwide.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi formally handed over the Morodok Techno National Stadium, which China financed and started building in 2013, to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday, reported the Khmer Times.

At the handover ceremony, Wang said China funded the project because it was close friends with Cambodia, per the Times. Cambodia plans to use the stadium, located on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh, to host the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in 2023.

Prow-like structures on Morodok Techno Stadium

Prow-like structures sit on either end of Morodok Techno National Stadium

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images


The stadium was designed to look like a boat, with a 324-foot-tall structure on either end that resembles a prow and a stern. The design is meant to signify China and Cambodia’s relationship, because Chinese people used to sail by ship to Cambodia hundreds of years ago, Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon said, according to Xinhua Net.

The shape of the “prows” also symbolizes the “Sampeah,” a traditional Cambodian greeting or show of respect where a person presses their palms together in front of their chest and bows, per Xinhua Net.

Prows symbolizing the Sampeah

The prows of the stadium are meant to look like the Sampeah, a traditional Cambodian way of greeting

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images


Surrounding the five-story stadium is a wide moat with fountains, paying homage to Cambodia’s iconic 500-acre Angkor Wat temple.

The building can seat 60,000 people and is kitted out with an international-standard football pitch, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and a running track, per the Khmer Times. It also has a training hall, indoor gym, and aquatics center, according to the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee, and can host sporting matches like cricket, basketball, and badminton.

Interior of Morodok Stadium

Chinese and Cambodian government officials walk inside Morodok Techno National Stadium.

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)


Construction of the stadium took 340 Chinese engineers and 240 Cambodian workers, according to the Khmer Times.

“These are just the early fruits harvested during this season of growth for the ‘ironclad’ Cambodia-China relationship,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the stadium’s handover ceremony, per the Phnom Penh Post.

Stadium diplomacy

China has been giving away infrastructure projects to developing countries in exchange for influence, under a plan it calls the “belt and road initiative.”

It has helped nations build airports, roads, and shipping lanes, but stadiums in particular have been one of its big-ticket items for decades. More than 100 stadiums in Asian, Latin American, and African countries have been built, designed, and financed by China, according to a 2019 report published in the Habitat International journal.

Some researchers have dubbed the tactic “stadium diplomacy.”

China has spent billions of dollars in aid, loans, and investments in Cambodia, and the two nations have maintained close ties for years. In June, Cambodia demolished and replaced two US-funded facilities at one of its naval bases, sparking concerns that China may be expanding its military presence there.

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