Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday praised China for financing development projects in Cambodia, but reiterated that the Kingdom will not abandon other countries like some analysts had claimed.
He made the statement during the ceremonial opening of National Road 58, which links Poipet town in Banteay Meanchey province to Oddar Meanchey province Samrong town.
Construction on the road started in 2015 and has cost $171 million, of which $119 million was financed by China and the rest through government expenditure.
“I want to ask the question . . . if China doesn’t help us, who will help us? I ask those who judge China’s assistance, who will help?
“Let it be known that when you are travelling on this road, it is contributed by China. I welcome all development aid to Cambodia,” Hun Sen stressed.
He also expressed gratitude for the support of other countries, such as Japan, which built the Kizuna Bridge which links Kampong Cham town to Tbong Khmum province’s Tonle Bet commune, the Tsubasa Bridge which links Kandal and Prey Veng, and aided in the construction of national roads 1 and 5.
He also applauded the World Bank and Asian Development Bank for their contributions in building Cambodian infrastructure, as well as the Republic of Korea for constructing national roads 2, 22, 33 and 48.
“We welcome them. Our friends in Japan, the Republic of Korea, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Opec Fund for International Development help us over our limitations. Today we thank China for their continued development impact in Cambodia.”
China also helps Cambodia in many other sectors, such as canal construction, providing health aid, education and human resource development. “Now, thousands of Cambodian students are studying in China.
“You said in your analysis that we are abandoning the US and Europe and only dealing with China. I have already made clear that I haven’t abandoned anyone. I need all friends. Some people are too extreme. China is doing business with us, so what is the issue?
“Cambodia’s foreign policy is not determined by other countries’ political regimes. Cambodia has diplomatic relation with more than 170 countries,” he stressed.
Hun Sen continued that Cambodia has a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, and it also has a similar partnership with Japan, but critics have overlooked that, as it doesn’t fit their narrative.
Minister of Public Works and Transportation Sun Chanthol said during the opening ceremony that National Road 58 was an important strategic road for defence, the economy, and tourism because of its route along the Cambodia-Thai border.
It also links individuals and institutions between Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey province, he added.
Political analyst Em Sovannara said Chinese development aid which poured into Cambodia has been some of the highest from the country.
Chinese aid normally came without conditions, which sets it apart from the US or EU which offer aid through treaties or conventions with strings attached.
“Aid without strings attached is good for a country like Cambodia, as long as it is just that. Some countries see Cambodia as leaning toward China because Cambodia cancelled military exercises with the US and Australia,” he said.