The Leaderboard: Bu Jianguo

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.

Who is she?

Bu Jianguo is China’s new ambassador to Cambodia. She previously served as ambassador to Laos from 2010 to May 2013, during which time Chinese investment in Laos doubled to $4 billion.

Why is she in the news?

Bu took up her post in Phnom Penh days before Cambodia’s landmark July 28 general elections. She played an important role in facilitating Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s visit on August 20-21. Wang visited several Southeast Asian countries in an effort to boost ties between China and ASEAN. Phnom Penh and Beijing maintain close political and economic relations, with China currently the largest foreign investor in Cambodia.

What can we expect?

Bu was one of the first foreign diplomats to meet with and congratulate Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) for winning the elections. Both the CPP and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party claim to have won. Sam Rainsy, Cambodia’s opposition leader, has said his party will resort to mass protests unless an independent committee launches an investigation into alleged irregularities in the vote. In her new role as ambassador, Bu will be at the forefront of Chinese efforts to support the Cambodian government against what Wang called “[acts] of external disturbance” by foreign parties in the country’s political situation.

Bu will also face the challenge of improving people-to-people ties between China and Cambodia. While trade between the two countries has surged in recent times, public sentiment in Cambodia toward China has not always been positive, partly due to the environmental impact of Chinese investments.

As Beijing’s point woman in Cambodia, Bu will be critical to helping the Chinese government navigate the post-election political and investment climate in Cambodia in coming years.

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