China has renewed its pledge to continue to support the Kingdom’s development and provide assistance aimed at improving the livelihoods of Cambodians. Both sides also reiterated their commitment to deepening the existing comprehensive strategic partnership in a new era.

The pledges came as foreign minister Prak Sokhonn met with Qian Hongshan, Deputy Minister of International Relations of the Central Committee Communist Party of China (CPC), at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Phnom Penh on July 24.

According to the ministry’s press release, Qian congratulated Cambodia on the “smooth, orderly, free, fair, transparent and peaceful” conduct of the July 23 national election, which saw a high voter turnout of over 84 per cent. He also commended the Kingdom’s remarkable economic progress, as evidenced in the improved standard of living off its citizens.

He also reiterated China’s sustained support for Cambodia’s sovereignty, dignity and pursuit of the development path best suited to the Kingdom’s unique national characteristics.

Sokhonn extended his gratitude for China’s substantial support and development assistance – including the provision of Covid-19 vaccines and medical equipment – which have made a significant contribution to Cambodia’s socio-economic development and infrastructure.

“China’s crucial role as a leading donor, trading partner, investor and source of tourists in Cambodia is recognised,” he emphasised.

Both sides explored opportunities to further enhance collaboration between the two ruling parties in areas of governance, education, support for young entrepreneurs and leaders, and cultural exchanges.

They also reaffirmed their commitment to further deepening their comprehensive strategic partnership while jointly building a high-level, high-quality and high-standard Cambodia-China community of common destiny in the new era.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that Cambodian-Chinese relations had become even closer since they were enhanced to the level of “diamond” cooperation, for the mutual benefit of their peoples. The relationship between the two countries has lasted for 65 years and the post-election meeting had put even more emphasis on the closeness of the ties.

“The close relationship between the two countries can be seen through diplomatic support for one another and the economy alike. In terms of development, Cambodia couldn’t cut aid from China. The Kingdom has enjoyed the momentum of economic development and the rapid growth of its physical infrastructure,” he added, while also noting that Cambodia has adopted a policy of multilateral diplomacy instead of banking entirely on China.

Political researcher Vann Bunna said the meeting was a show of support for one another and demonstrated China’s preparedness to assist the new government, even as it has come under pressure from the west.

“Cambodia should benefit politically, because the US, Canada, the EU and the UK all reacted negatively to the general election in Cambodia. China will play a crucial role in backing the ruling Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] when a new government that supports the [CPC] is formed,” he added.

He added that China would be a tower of strength for the new government as it prepares to lead the country. And while the Kingdom had shown an interest in enhancing its relationship with the US, the West and the EU, the problem was that Cambodian internal politics were not conducive to the relationship.

He believed that the US did not regard Cambodia as a key actor in its geopolitical interests. This made it harder for Cambodia to move closer to the US, while the Kingdom and China share several areas of interest, both bilaterally and geopolitically.