The Chinese Embassy donated equipment to the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) yesterday, marking the beginning of a new pledge to become a top donor to the sector, following the withdrawal of US funds.
Ambassador Xiong Bo oversaw the donation of 40 motorbikes, 26 computers and tablets, over 1,000 wheelchairs, various metal detectors, blasting devices and protective gear.
“Today’s event is very important, not only for the landmine authority, but also for the entire demining action. This is an expression of generosity from China for the Cambodian people,” said Ly Thuch, secretary-general of CMAA.
China’s pledge to contribute demining aid comes in the wake of the US pulling its annual contribution of $2 million from the Cambodian Mine Action Center. Relations between the US and Cambodia have been strained for months, though Prime Minister Hun Sen has claimed China will fill any aid gaps left behind.
Serei Kosal, CMAA deputy director, said that the assistance from China will save tens of thousands of lives.
“The 5,000 demining officials who risk their lives to save Cambodians feel warm for having a friend like a sibling to accompany us in saving the people’s lives,” Kosal said.
Kosal added that China will accept Cambodian demining officials to attend training in China, claiming “no country has helped Cambodia in such a manner”.
For years, Cambodian deminers have received training from US experts.
Kosal also requested that China donate drones to contribute to CMAA’s efforts, and said the government plans to end demining by 2025, but it needs $400 million to do so.
Officials at the Chinese Embassy could not be reached.