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‘Fruitful’ China, MLC talks as Sokhonn ends Myanmar trip

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Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn (third left) meets his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi (second right) in Bagan, Myanmar on July 3. MFAIC

‘Fruitful’ China, MLC talks as Sokhonn ends Myanmar trip

Cambodia and China have renewed their vows to deepen relations between the two nations.

The pledge came during a July 3 meeting between foreign minister Prak Sokhonn and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, one day prior to the 7th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bagan, Myanmar.

“They had a fruitful discussion on various topics and reiterated their commitment to further deepening bilateral relations, which are currently at their peak. They also took the opportunity to exchange views on regional and international issues,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in a July 3 press release.

The two countries’ relationship has already officially been designated a “comprehensive strategic partnership” since 2010, which is generally considered to be China’s highest level of diplomatic coordination.

Sokhonn attended the 7th MLC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bagan on July 4, scheduled to begin just after he wrapped up his second trip there in his capacity as the ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar.

With regards to deepening bilateral relations, Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said it has been apparent for some time now that the two countries are “glued together” by their relationship at this point.

He said, however, that Cambodia’s relationship should also be similarly close with other countries like the US and EU member states because all countries are possible resources for the Kingdom’s development and those relationships should also be raised in priority if possible, like the with China.

“Such ties could also make Cambodia stronger in general in its international diplomacy, if we can achieve that. If Cambodia’s only high-priority relationship is with China – and our relationships with other important countries are accorded a lower status – we will eventually encounter obstacles due to that, and it isn’t suitable because Cambodia could then be seen as not adhering to multilateralism,” he said.

Back in 2018, Sokhonn said Cambodia and China had cultivated a high degree of political trust and cooperated closely and sincerely on the basis of mutual benefit to safeguard and promote both nations’ national interests.

“Cambodia firmly endorses the principle of the “one-China” policy, and likewise, China always respects Cambodia’s sovereignty and independence as well as our pursuit of a development path determined by our people according to our own national context,” he said.

Wang was quoted by Chinese state media outlet Xinhua as saying that China was willing to work with Cambodia to further implement the strategic consensus reached between the leadership of both nations while strengthening communication and deepening cooperation, so as to perfect the endeavour of solidifying the China-Cambodia community with a shared future.

“China, as a close strategic partner, will continue to stand firmly with Cambodia and support its political stability and economic development,” he said.

He added that China will deliver the remaining 15 million Covid-19 vaccines doses it has pledged to Cambodia on time and according to the needs of the Cambodian side and that China will also provide other anti-epidemic supplies at the earliest possible convenience in addition to expanding the export of Cambodian rice to China and increasing the number of direct flights between the two countries.

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