Cambodia and China jointly agreed to develop a “diamond cooperation framework” with six priority areas: Political cooperation, production capacity and quality, agriculture, energy, security, and people-to people exchanges.
The agreement was made at a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 10 in Beijing during the latter’s February 9-11 state visit, and announced in a joint statement on building a Cambodia-China “community of common destiny in the new era”.
According to China’s foreign ministry, Xi pointed out that Hun Sen visited China three years ago amid heavy snow and the onslaught of the pandemic and stood firmly with the Chinese people in their fight against Covid-19.
He expressed his great pleasure to work with Hun Sen to jointly open a new era of building a China-Cambodia community of common destiny beginning this spring.
Xi stressed that China considered the Kingdom as a key part of its neighbourhood diplomacy and that his government has plans to advance bilateral cooperation in various fields from a holistic and strategic perspective.
He said China is ready to share opportunities, seek cooperation and promote development in Cambodia in the process of advancing the great rejuvenation of the nation on all fronts through a path to modernisation.
Xi also hailed the creation of a “high-quality, high-level and high-standards China-Cambodia community of common destiny in the new era” in order to bring benefit to the two peoples and contribute more positive energy to regional peace, stability and development.
The Chinese president said that in politics, the two sides needed to enhance strategic communications, strengthen the exchange of experience in governance and deepen other exchanges through various channels.
For production capacity, both nations need to focus on the building of the “industrial development corridor”.
Xi said that in agriculture the two nations need to focus on the building of a “Fish and Rice Corridor” and carry out lakeside agricultural cooperation.
In energy, he said both countries need to ensure green development and China will increase investment in hydropower and photovoltaic power generation projects in Cambodia.
“In security, the two sides should carry out special operations to jointly combat cross-border crimes on a regular basis, and China will continue to provide Cambodia with mine-clearance assistance.
“In people-to-people exchanges, China will give priority to resuming and increasing its direct flights with Cambodia, encourage tourism cooperation, carry out the protection and restoration of cultural heritage and support Cambodia in developing education and health,” the statement said.
Xi said that China firmly supports the Cambodian people in independently choosing a development path suited to their national conditions, defending national sovereignty and security, steadily advancing its major domestic political agenda and socio-economic development, and opposing external interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs.
The joint statement said that China would provide assistance for a project to restore the Royal Palace at Angkor and protect and restore Preah Vihear Temple and other cultural heritage sites.
The two governments are committed to a joint action to preserve Asian cultural heritage, explore the establishment of a Cambodia-China joint working group on cultural heritage and to promote across-the-spectrum cooperation.
“Both sides agreed to continue working on the platform of the Asian Cultural Council to strengthen the cooperation for promoting peace, prosperity, solidarity and amity through mutual understanding, respect, trust and interest and to connect the civilisations of Asia,” the joint statement said.
Both also made an agreement on scientific, technological and innovative cooperation on the basis of equality, equity and mutual benefit, including holding the first meeting of the “Cambodia-China Joint Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation” while promoting cooperation in technology transfer and people-to-people exchanges in science and technology.
“Both sides agreed to launch education policy dialogues, supporting Cambodian youth to study in China and Cambodia to develop Chinese language teaching, promoting the establishment of new Confucius Institutes in Cambodia and stepping up vocational education cooperation and digital transformation of education,” the joint statement said.
Thong Mengdavid, a researcher at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said comprehensive cooperation between Cambodia and China is focused on mutual respect and win-win principles and strategies.
“Because of the good relations between China and Cambodia... [The] people of the two countries have one society that has development, peace, stability and a good economy. China enabled Cambodia to overcome Covid-19 with vaccines provided through the timely assistance of its Chinese friends,” he told The Post on February 12.
Mengdavid said that China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” is not only helping to restore and further develop infrastructure in the Mekong sub-region, but it is also helping develop other sectors in Cambodia such as agriculture, energy, digital technology and cyber security while also strengthening military infrastructure and regional security.