China's Hubei province, the East Asian country’s geographical, economic and transport centre, wants to pursue sister-province ties with three Cambodian provinces that have tourism and trade potential, in a bid to ramp up cooperation on development in both countries across all fields.
These provinces are Siem Reap, Kampot and Preah Sihanouk, a July 2 letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – and signed by minister Prak Sokhonn – said, citing letter No 144/21 dated June 1 from the Consulate General of Cambodia in Chongqing.
Addressing Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, the foreign ministry’s letter said the Hubei provincial Foreign Affairs Office underlined that sister-province relationships would establish closer friendships and benefit the residents of the localities involved.
Large companies in Hubei have invested in the Kingdom’s infrastructure and energy resources, it said, adding that the province is at the heart of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath noted that Siem Reap, Kampot and Preah Sihanouk have ample potential for tourism, while Hubei offers great opportunities for modern agriculture.
He told The Post that connecting localities as sister provinces would provide huge mutual benefits in agriculture and tourism.
“I think connectivity is a good thing. We’ve seen that Siem Reap has the potential for cultural tourism and Hubei has the potential for modern agriculture, so we can benefit by connecting them to each other.
“We can benefit from the flow of tourists to Siem Reap,” he said.
He pointed out that “most farmers” in Hubei grow flowers, which could be shipped in to serve the Cambodian tourism industry.
“Some areas in Siem Reap are lowlands that are conducive to agriculture. As a consequence. agriculture for modern tourism, with organic fruits and vegetables, would be a potential opportunity for Cambodia if connected with Hubei” as a sister province, he said.
Many investment projects have been born out of the BRI, Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian previously said.
He offered the Preah Sihanouk Special Economic Zone, the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, the China-Aid Cambodia Rural Water Supply Project, and the Morodok Techo National Stadium as prime examples.
Wang said China-Cambodia trade would top $5.56 billion last year, despite the Covid-19 crisis.