Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn has called on parties involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to strengthen cooperation to produce and distribute Covid-19 vaccines to avoid politicising the pandemic.

“We have to strengthen cooperation to produce and distribute vaccines in a more inclusive and equitable manner ... Regional cooperation is necessary if we are to strengthen pandemic prevention in the future,” he said.

Sokhonn made the remarks at the virtual Asia-Pacific high-level conference on BRI cooperation on June 23 under the theme “Promoting Cooperation on Combating the Pandemic for Sustainable Development”.

He said international cooperation and partnership building are more important than ever for economic recovery and for societies to survive the socio-economic impact caused by the pandemic.

He continued China’s multilateral approach in vaccine distribution has been recognised widely for its importance. To date, China has delivered more than 350 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines globally.

Sokhonn said China had continued to encourage its pharmaceutical companies to transfer technology and vaccine production techniques to developing countries. “With this strong commitment, we can see a future world safer than present.

“I firmly believe that international cooperation and connectivity is an important catalyst for recovery. Our regional cooperation needs to focus on assurances that supply chains in the region are resilient. We did well in this context with BRI projects growing across the region,” he said.

With regard to construction projects, Sokhonn said Cambodia had special economic zones in Preah Sihanouk province and expressway construction projects connecting Phnom Penh to the coastal province, and new airports in the capital and Siem Reap province.

Infrastructure projects have evolved smoothly and will surely boost Cambodia’s economic recovery, he said.

“As well as support for these two initiatives requested by China for vaccine cooperation and partnerships in green development, I am optimistic that the spirit of BRI cooperation will continue to contribute to achieving our sustainable development goals for many years to come,” he said.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia's International Relations Institute, told The Post on June 24 that the cooperative partnership between Cambodia and China has seen the latter providing millions doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the Kingdom through either purchases or donations.

“We know that the Covid-19 vaccine is not a normal commodity that are readily available for sale, even though we have the money. Some countries that have the money are not able to buy the vaccine on time.

“We see that the good relationship between Cambodia and China has benefitted Cambodia economically, socially, culturally, and educationally, especially amid Covid-19 as China has provided vaccines, techniques, as well as other medicines,” he said.