Prime Minister Hun Sen, in his capacity as president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), sent a congratulatory letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping for his re-election as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at its recent 20th national congress.
Xi, now 69, was re-elected for a record third five-year term to the post, a privilege formerly accorded only to party founder Mao Zedong and one that breaks with the pattern established after his death of China’s leaders holding office for no more than 10 years and retiring at age 68.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the session was attended by 203 members of the 20th CPC Central Committee and 168 alternate members. Xi was also named chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission, it said.
Speaking to the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi said the CPC “should always act for the people and rely on the people on the journey ahead”, according to Xinhua.
Hun Sen said the world applauded China’s great success in poverty alleviation, technological innovation, scientific progress and the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics under Xi’s leadership.
“On this auspicious occasion, I wish to extend, on behalf of the CPP, my heartfelt congratulations to Your Excellency. I would also like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere felicitations to all leaders and members of the CPC at the successful conclusion of the 20th National Congress, which will provide new momentum to building China into a great modern socialist country,” he said in a letter released just hours after Xi was unanimously elected by the party’s elites to his third term.
“The historic achievements have benefited not only the Chinese people, but also the world at large. I have no doubt that with your far-sighted vision and tireless efforts, China will achieve greater success and realise the Second Centenary Goal as well as all policies and targets set by the 20th National Congress,” he said.
According to Hun Sen, Cambodia and China have enjoyed growing bilateral ties and “all-round close cooperation, mainly due to CPP-CPC traditional friendship and cordial relations”.
He said that for many years, the CPP and CPC have forged an ironclad friendship, which has constantly advanced Cambodia-China bilateral relations in the interests of the peoples of the two countries.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Your Excellency to further strengthen the CPP-CPC traditional friendship and take the Cambodia-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Cooperation to new heights,” he said.
The royalist FUNCINPEC party also sent a congratulatory letter to Xi, according to its president Prince Norodom Chakravuth.
Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Xi’s third term would allow Cambodia-China relationship to continue its growth to the next level.
“As we know, Cambodia-China relations have now reached an all-time peak historically, and this relationship is contributed to by the personal relationship between the leaders of the two countries, especially between Prime Minister Hun Sen and President Xi,” he said.
He said China’s expansion of its regional influence and power through its “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) had already brought great benefits to the Kingdom by enabling foreign investment, foreign trade and infrastructure development in Cambodia ranging from roads to bridges to airports, to name just a few projects underway.
“I think in the next five years, the Cambodia-China relationship will continue to bring prosperity and I believe it will grow even stronger, while the personal relationships among our leaders in both countries will likely become deeper as well,” he said.