Cambodia and China have signed two agreements to strengthen healthcare in Cambodia, as Prime Minister Hun Sen affirmed that the Covid-19 vaccines from the Chinese government were a big help to the Kingdom’s efforts at fighting the virus and quick reopening of its economy.

The agreements would see a dispatch of 19 Chinese traditional medicine experts to the Kingdom and the establishment of the Cambodia-China Traditional Medicine Centre.

In addition to the two agreements, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that the Chinese side acted as a facilitator in providing Covid-19 vaccines to Cambodia, which helped the Kingdom overcome the pandemic and reopen the country and its economy.

“Through the current visit by Chinese Premier [Li Keqiang], the two countries have further strengthened cooperation and bilateral relations, especially focusing on boosting trade, strengthening the economy, investment and development in many other important areas as Cambodia and China have just signed 18 key documents,” he said.

Minister of Health Mam Bunheng previously said that sending a team of Chinese traditional medicine experts to Cambodia would enhance cooperation between the two countries in the prevention of Covid-19 and promote the development of Sino-Cambodian relations.

He claimed that the Chinese medical team not only helped Cambodia in the fight against Covid-19, but also helped promote the development of Cambodian traditional medicine.

The Chinese side said the traditional medicine centre will provide additional training to Cambodian medics and establish a source for medicines to help local patients.

Back on March 16 this year, a group of 12 Chinese traditional medicine specialists arrived in Cambodia as the first national team to be sent out of the country by the Chinese government, according to the health ministry.

San Chey, executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said the expansion of Cambodian-Chinese cooperation from investment to health was a good move. However, he wants Cambodia to review what has happened in the past, especially any shortcomings.

“Chinese investment in Cambodia has had some negative effects and some positive ones. We should review and improve the procedures on things that aren’t working,” he said. “If the shortcomings are not addressed, we fear that the relationship will only be about the big picture, but quality may be lacking.”

According to the health ministry, the rate of new infections of Covid-19 in Cambodia remains low and new deaths due to the virus are non-existent.

As of March, Cambodia had received more than 28 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from China and has become one of the world’s most vaccinated countries with 95.12 per cent of the Kingdom’s estimated population of 16 million having been inoculated, according to a report by the national Covid-19 vaccination committee on November 9.