Kingdom, China reaffirm bond

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian foreign minister Prak Sokhonn and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the meetings in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing. Foreign Ministry

The foreign ministers of Cambodia and China reaffirmed the intentions of the two nations to expand their cooperation in all fields in order to serve the interests of their peoples and to build a Cambodia-China community with a shared future.

Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn held bilateral talks with Chinese State Councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and 6th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, both held in China on June 7-8.

“Both sides reaffirmed their strong commitments to strengthen and deepen their ironclad friendship and further enhance cooperation in many areas for the benefit of the two peoples,” the press statement said.

Sokhonn thanked China for providing its generous and timely assistance, including medical equipment and vaccines, to help Cambodia fight the Covid-19 outbreak.

Yi said China will continue to support Cambodia’s development and safeguard its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The two foreign ministers also agreed to speed up internal procedures for the ratification of the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement to boost trade, investment and tourism between the two countries. China promised to import more agricultural products from Cambodia, especially rice and mangos.

Sokohnn and Yi also presided over the signing ceremony of memorandums of understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Field of Telecommunications and Information and Communications Technology and Executive Programme on Cultural Cooperation For 2021-2025. They also unveiled the plaque for the Chinese Consular Office in Preah Sihanouk province.

There have been no details released as of yet regarding the first of the two MoUs, but the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh said it was a cooperative agreement with the goal of tackling internet and data security.

The embassy said: “Both sides have agreed to jointly address the risks and challenges of internet and data security. Cambodia has reaffirmed its support for [China’s] Global Initiative on Data Security.”

China’s Global Initiative on Data Security was launched on September 8, 2020, to establish rules and standards for data security and they called on other states to join the initiative.

As for the cultural memorandum, the embassy said details would become available at a later date regarding a programme of planned cooperation in the cultural sector taking place over a four year period.

“The signing of the two documents above clearly show that new and important progress is being achieved in building a common destiny between our two countries,” the embassy said.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on June 9 that Cambodian-Sino relations right now, and for the foreseeable future, showed no signs of weakening. The leaders of the two countries always showed a firm commitment to maintaining their close ties.

He said China and Cambodia have a comprehensive strategic relationship and had signed agreements in 2019 for further development of ties across a broad range of sectors for the benefit of both nations.

“What worries us is rivalry between China and the US, which may affect our country because of our good relationship with China. The US is truly not happy with Chinese influence in Southeast Asia, in general, and it is not happy with Cambodia because of this,” he said.

Phea said Cambodia needed to craft an intelligent foreign policy that would take advantage of this rivalry between the two superpowers rather than fall victim to it.