China hopes to seize the opportunity of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s state visit to push for further progress in building a “shared-future” community between the two countries.

At the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Hun Sen departed Cambodia on February 9 for the visit until February 11.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a press conference on February 6 that Hun Sen has been a good friend of the Chinese people for a long time, adding that he is the first foreign leader to be received by China after the country’s Spring Festival this year, which demonstrated the strong Sino-Cambodian ties.

She said that during the visit, Chinese leaders will meet and hold talks with Hun Sen with in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral ties and regional and international issues of common interest, noting that the two nations are close neighbours and “iron-clad friends”.

“The China-Cambodia friendship, forged by the older generation of leaders of both countries, has stood the test of time and grown from strength to strength,” Mao said.

She said that under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, the efforts to build the China-Cambodia community with a shared future has achieved fruitful outcomes in recent years, bringing tangible benefits to both peoples and making a positive contribution to the peace and prosperity of the region and beyond.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Cambodian diplomatic ties, designated earlier as the “China-Cambodia Friendship Year”.

“China hopes to take this visit as an opportunity to push for even greater progress in the building of the China-Cambodia community with a shared future and carry forward the China-Cambodia friendship from generation to generation,” Mao said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen arrived in China at 12:20pm Cambodian time on February 9.

The Ministry of Information quoted Srey Thamrong, the Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister, as telling reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport before his departure that around 12 documents will be signed during the visit.

Those documents include cooperation in politics, economy, trade, culture and other areas. In terms of the economic sector, there is financing, including grants and cooperation in many other areas.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said that although Cambodia is a small country, it is of geo-strategic importance.

He noted that geopolitical competition in the region and unpredictable shifts in the security environment has convinced Cambodia to implement more flexible national security and foreign policies to defend its territorial integrity, peace, stability and national development by making friends and developing ties with other countries in addition to China, though it remains an important partner.

“Cambodia gives value to cooperation and the spirit of multilateralism and abides by the principles of peace and international law. These factors encourage China to continue helping Cambodia with development, based on mutual respect and a win-win policy,” he said.