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China keen to forge ‘stronger than steel’ ties with Kingdom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi (left) and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday. SPM

China keen to forge ‘stronger than steel’ ties with Kingdom

China is committed to expanding relations with Cambodia and forging them to be “stronger than steel” by continuing to help the Kingdom’s economy to grow, Chinese State Councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi affirmed as he wrapped up his two-day visit.

Wang paid the official visit over September 12-13 as a show of support for Cambodia and to signal the importance of the bilateral relations to China’s regional agenda.

After a meeting between Wang and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn on September 13, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said his government will continue to provide vaccines and other supplies to Cambodia to help it fight the Covid-19 pandemic while expanding imports of agricultural products from the Kingdom and supporting its continued industrialisation to transform and upgrade its economy.

“China will continue to work hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters, the Cambodian people, to advance China-Cambodia cooperation across the board and forge a Chinese-Cambodian friendship that is harder than iron and stronger than steel,” he said.

“We do not treat [other] countries according to their relative size, but instead commit to consultation with them as equals and with mutual respect.

“When conducting diplomacy we never attach political strings, we do not write ‘bad checks’ nor do we go about merely paying lip service,” the spokesman said.

The fact that the Chinese and Cambodian foreign ministers have met face-to-face three times in less than a year despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic fully demonstrates the uniqueness of the two nations’ mutual relations and the importance of bilateral cooperation between them, he said.

The spokesman noted that the newly-constructed Morodok Techo National Stadium is by far the largest and best facility of its type that China has helped build overseas and it will stand as a symbol of China-Cambodia friendly cooperation and serve as an important landmark for Chinese-Cambodian friendship.

In a Facebook post on September 13, Sokhonn said: “The success of His Excellency Wang Yi’s official visit is another milestone in the history of Cambodia-China relations!”

He said Cambodia looks forward to using the stadium, a gift from the Chinese people, to host major sporting events, particularly the upcoming Southeast Asian Games and the ASEAN Para-Games in 2023.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn (right) and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting on Sunday. PRAK SOKHONN VIA FACEBOOK

“The announcement of an additional three million doses of [Covid-19] vaccine assistance to Cambodia will also speed up the recovery and return to normal life for our nation in the near future,” he said.

On September 12, China signed a memorandum of understanding on the provision of humanitarian equipment in the field of demining and for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia.

The two sides also signed a cooperation agreement on supporting partnership hospitals and an agreement on the implementation of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Special Fund project.

In addition, China has approved a grant of about $270 million for economic and technical assistance and $2.5 million for demining and removal of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia.

At a working breakfast meeting with Wang on September 13, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong asked China for assistance through increased purchases of Cambodian agricultural products, especially Pailin Longan, pepper, durian and sugar.

After the meeting, Namhong said China will also speed up the construction of National Road 71C and send Chinese technicians to study a 20km stretch of damaged road on National Road 3.

Namhong also noted that China plans to assist with promotion of the underwater fiber optic cable project between Preah Sihanouk province and Hong Kong in order to increase the overall speed of the internet in Cambodia.

In a Facebook post on September 12, Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked China for the additional three million vaccine doses to be used as booster shots. Two million vaccines doses from China have already been provided for that purpose.

“With the substantial assistance it has provided for the development of Cambodia, China has become the go-to country for the supply of vaccines here. Cambodia has received 26.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the Chinese government and people,” he said.

The prime minister quoted Wang as saying: “The difficulties of the Cambodian people are the difficulties of the Chinese people. We will work together with Cambodia to relieve these burdens,” Hun Sen’s Facebook page quoted Yi as saying during a meeting with him on September 12.

Wang also said China will increase imports of produce from Cambodia’s farmers.

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