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Sokhonn plans China trip

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the ministry in Phnom Penh in September. PRAK SOKHONN VIA FACEBOOK

Sokhonn plans China trip

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn will lead a delegation on an official visit to Hangzhou City in China’s Zhejiang province from December 3-5.

Sokhonn’s visit is at the invitation of Chinese State Councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi, according to the foreign ministry’s press statement on November 30.

During the visit, Sokhonn will meet with Wang to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation in various areas such as the post-Covid-19 recovery, economic and trade ties, tourism, education, health, agriculture and defence, among others, as well as regional and international issues of common interest and concern.

“This official visit will further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and their long-standing tradition of friendship, solidarity, fraternity and tangible cooperation enhanced within the multilateral framework for the mutual benefit of their two peoples,” the ministry said.

Last September, Wang paid a two-day visit to Cambodia to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Morodok Techo National Stadium with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The new national stadium is a fully modern facility with a seating capacity of 60,000 that showcases China’s “Belt and Road” initiative aimed at assisting other nations with large infrastructure projects through loans, grants and other means.

Sokhonn said at the time that Wang’s visit was another milestone in bilateral relations and that Cambodia looked forward to using the stadium – which was built by a Chinese construction company using grant money from China – to host major sporting events, including the Southeast Asian Games and the ASEAN Para-Games already scheduled there for 2023.

During his previous visit, Wang also pledged humanitarian assistance in the form of demining assistance and additional medical equipment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both sides have also signed a cooperative agreement on supporting Cambodian hospitals and the agreement on the implementation of the projects planned by the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on November 30 that the visit deepened relations between the two countries and made them more comprehensive.

He said the visit also demonstrated the two countries’ firm commitment to help and support each other, and economic recovery during and after the Covid-19 pandemic remains an important agenda item for both nations.

“The issue of economic recovery will perhaps test the strength of the relationship between Cambodia and China. To what extent can China afford to help Cambodia? Cambodia is suffering economically due to Covid-19 – but so is China,” he said, adding that the Chinese economy has been roiled by recent events such as the financial collapse of the huge Evergrande conglomerate.

He said the two countries’ top leaders appeared to be committed to continue strengthening and expanding bilateral relations and their “ironclad” comprehensive strategic partnership – despite skeptics who claim that it makes Cambodia too heavily dependent on China.

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