In a statement issued on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed Cambodia’s support for the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and said it considers the Hong Kong situation to be an internal matter for the People’s Republic of China.
The statement read: “Cambodia supports every necessary move of the government of the People’s Republic of China and the special administrative zone of Hong Kong to maintain peace, public order, national security and union in social harmony in compliance with laws, regulations of the country and international cooperation.”
The ministry said Cambodia wanted to see a return to normality in Hong Kong.
Millions of protestors in Hong Kong have staged mass demonstrations for 11 consecutive weekends against an extradition law first proposed in February which would allow it to extradite criminal suspects to the Chinese mainland to be processed in their courts.
Critics fear the law could be abused by authoritarian Beijing and view this as another example of its creeping influence in Hong Kong.
In the face of mounting pressure, on July 9, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said she had stopped the law’s amendment process, but it has still not been formally withdrawn.
The Chinese Embassy in Cambodia also issued a statement on Friday opposing the unrest in Hong Kong.
In a four-page Khmer-language statement, Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said demonstrations in Hong Kong had overstepped the mark, turned violent and seriously affected social stability, safety, lives and property in the city.
Wentian “deeply thanked” Cambodia for its support to the Chinese government on the issue.
He stressed that China continued to apply the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, which sees Hong Kong enjoy freedoms not seen on the mainland as part of its handover agreement from the UK in 1997.
“Clearly, some activists causing violence in Hong Kong do not demand to [only] protest against the law on the extradition of suspects. Their goal is to cause unrest in Hong Kong and then compromise the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” he said.
Wentian said Beijing was committed to supporting Lam, attributing the unrest to outside meddling – specifically eluding to a US institution based in Hong Kong that allegedly met with demonstration leaders.
Social analyst Meas Nee said Cambodia’s announcement supporting the Chinese government was an attempt to strengthen relations with China, an increasingly important ally and influence on the Kingdom.
“I think this is part of the Cambodian government making China happy. [Cambodia is] a good friend loyally protecting the interests of China in Hong Kong,” he said.
Ministry spokesperson Ket Sophann declined to comment, saying the statement had affirmed the ministry’s position.