The visit by a Chinese Communist Party delegation aims to strengthen ties with the Kingdom's Cambodian People's Party
Heng Samrin (centre) at the Water Festival last week.
A CHINESE Communist Party (CCP) delegation was to arrive in Phnom Penh today for investment and aid talks with members of the Cambodian People's Party, according to Cambodian and Chinese officials.
The delegation, led by Zhang Gaoli, a member of the CCP Central Committee's political bureau, arrived in Siem Reap Thursday and spent the weekend sightseeing at Angkor Wat prior to travelling to the capital where official talks were slated to begin.
Qian Hai, first secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the trip was a yearly event that symbolised the close relationship between the ruling CCP and the ruling party in Cambodia.
"Between them, the CCP and CPP will visit each other every year," he said, adding that Chinese officials had played host to then-Funcinpec president Keo Puth Reasmey on a similar trip in February.
Cambodia is the delegation's first stop in a regional tour designed to strengthen the friendship between the CCP and four of the region's ruling parties: the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council, and the CPP and Funcinpec in Cambodia.
Qian would not say what would be discussed during today's talks, but cited the growing economic and political links between Beijing and Cambodia.
"It is the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries," he said. "We have a long history of ties, and this week will strengthen them. China and Cambodia cooperate in many things."
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the talks would centre on new opportunities for Chinese aid and investment.
"We will propose to the Chinese delegation that they assist us with aid to the tourism sector, for hydropower [developments] and for investment in Cambodia," he said.
"We are talking with the Chinese delegation about strengthening the friendship, the solidarity and the cooperation between both countries."
In recent years, China has risen to be Cambodia's foremost foreign donor, pledging US$280 million for infrastructure works at the Asia-Europe summit in Beijing last month in addition to a 2006 loans-and-grants package worth $600 million.
Cheam Yeap added that a Cambodian delegation would make a return trip early in the new year.
"At the beginning of 2009, Samdech Heng Samrin will lead a Cambodian delegation to China," he said.