Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Prak Sokhonn and Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian on Tuesday signed an agreement covering 20 cooperation projects worth more than $7 million.

The projects are made possible by the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Special Fund 2020.

According to a ministry press release, the new 20 projects cover a wide range of sectors related to socio-economic development, human resources development, cybersecurity, capacity building, tourism, and environmental services and natural protection.

Sokhonn said similar projects last year made substantial progress and produced many tangible benefits for Cambodians.

“I would like to extend my profound appreciation for the invaluable and continuing support provided by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to the Royal Government of Cambodia for the additional 20 new projects under the MLC Special Fund 2020,” he said.

He said the new projects would further contribute to a broad range of activities in the field of rural development, water resources, agriculture, air connectivity, education and cultural heritage, among others.

Cambodia-China cooperation, bilaterally and multilaterally, he said, had not lost any significance despite Covid-19, and that China made Cambodia a top priority in its contribution to contain the pandemic and alleviate its socio-economic impact.

Sokhonn said China has speedily dispatched anti-epidemic supplies and medical experts to assist Cambodia, and ships were specially engaged to ensure the flow of raw materials for industrial production.

He said the signing ceremony was timely and symbolic given the challenging time amid the pandemic and demonstrated the MLC’s strong foundation.

“Since the launch of the MLC Special Fund in 2016, these projects have contributed to enhancing the socio-economic development of the Mekong-Lancang countries through narrowing development gaps, deepening mutual understanding and trust, and strengthening our capacity to better respond to the needs of our people.

“Let me conclude by reaffirming Cambodia’s commitment to strengthening and deepening the bond of friendship between the Mekong countries and China,” Sokhonn said.

Wang said the LMC has demonstrated the advantages of geographical proximity, cultural similarity and people-to-people friendship among the six countries in the region.

He said it promoted their wide-ranging and in-depth mutually beneficial cooperation.

The LMC’s ideals of equality and mutual assistance, he said, were gaining greater public support. He confirmed that Cambodia has had the largest number of LMC projects for three consecutive years – 55 in total, including this year’s projects – at a total value of over $20 million.

“It fully reflects the active engagement of Cambodia in the LMC and demonstrates that the China-Cambodia cooperation within it is fruitful. We hope the projects will help improve the Cambodian people’s livelihoods and speed up development of the economy, society and other areas,” he said.

Wang said the application process for next year’s projects is now underway and he expects quality projects will be announced which will provide more support for economic and social development in the region.

He said China will promote the LMC to a new level to help the sub-regional economy recover from difficulties and make China’s proper contribution to the economic stability of Asia and the world.