Kingdom’s ties to China ‘grow’ with state visits

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the ASEAN-China Summit in Phnom Penh on November 12. Hong Menea

The relationship between China-Cambodia has grown even stronger following the recent visit of China’s No2 leader to the Kingdom, said Chinese ambassador Wang Wentian.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang paid a four-day visit to the Kingdom on November 8-11 to attend the ASEAN Summit, including the ASEAN-China bilateral meeting and the East Asia multilateral meeting.

Wang said Li’s decision to choose the Kingdom for his first trip abroad since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak reflected the high priority that China places on its relationship with Cambodia and the special nature of their ties.

“This visit has helped deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Cambodia as well as upgrading the benefits to our peoples to another level,” he said.

During Li’s visit to Cambodia, he met with King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen for in-depth discussions on topics such as strengthening traditional ties and promoting practical cooperation in many sectors, as well as international and regional issues of common concern.

The two sides jointly declared 2023 a “Year of Friendship between China and Cambodia” and issued a joint statement while also signing 18 bilateral cooperation agreements.

In an open letter on November 19, Wang said the outstanding results of this visit were the continuation of the growth of mutual political trust and the building of the community of common destiny, which was deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.

“The Chinese side reaffirms its respect for Cambodia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, supports the Cambodian people on the path of development in line with its national conditions, and strives to assist Cambodia in protecting stability, achieving development and improving people’s lives.

“Both sides stressed that they will accelerate the building of a community of common destiny between China and Cambodia even more closely in this new era of history. They also discussed and signed new action plans for building a community of common destiny between the two countries and jointly sent positive messages that China and Cambodia would continue to build upon this foundation of friendship,” Wang wrote.

China and Cambodia are also committed to further deepening practical cooperation and promoting better comprehensive coordination. The two sides agreed to strengthen defence and law enforcement cooperation and suppress human trafficking, online gambling, telecommunications fraud and related crimes.

The two sides also agreed to accelerate the joint construction of high-quality belt-and-road (BRI) projects, enhance production and investment cooperation and accelerate major projects to help Cambodia rapidly undergo the process of industrial modernisation of its systems to achieve sustainable development, said the Chinese envoy.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that the signing of a number of agreements and documents with Cambodia during Li’s visit was a testament to the positive bilateral relations between the Kingdom and China.

He said that because Cambodia plays a very important role in ASEAN-China relations regionally, both countries need each other.

“Therefore, the Chinese ambassador to the Kingdom issued this open letter to confirm that Cambodia and China enjoy a comprehensive friendship,” he said.