China pledged to provide more vaccine assistance to Cambodia and to establish a production facility in the Kingdom as the Covid-19 situation remains uncertain with the emergence of new variants and no clear end in sight.
The offer was made during a visit by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn to Hangzhou – the capital city of China’s Zhejiang province – on December 3-5 for talks with Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi.
“Wang Yi said the current pandemic situation remains in flux and therefore China is willing to support Cambodia’s consolidation of its pandemic prevention and control resources by continuing to provide vaccines assistance in accordance with the needs of the Cambodian population and by helping the Kingdom establish a vaccine production factory,” China’s foreign ministry said in a press statement.
Cambodia’s foreign ministry said Sokhonn expressed the Kingdom’s appreciation for China’s development assistance, which has significantly contributed to socio-economic development in the country and especially for the provision of medical supplies and vaccines that have been instrumental in Cambodia being able to bring the pandemic under control.
“[Wang] reaffirmed China’s strong commitment to continue to provide assistance to Cambodia in the fight against Covid-19, including supporting the establishment of a Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing facility in Cambodia,” it said.
The bilateral meeting also touched on strengthening economic and tourism recovery, infrastructure development and energy resources, among other topics.
On economic cooperation, Wang said China and Cambodia should utilise the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) and the regional comprehensive economic partnership agreement (RCEP) – which will take effect on January 1 – as opportunities to rapidly achieve economic recovery for the two countries and region after the pandemic.
“China is willing to steadily advance cooperation on major projects such as building expressways and airports as well as a demonstration zone for high-quality development of joint-venture production capacity.
“China will promote cooperation in the digital economy and ... implement more livelihood enhancing projects, expand Cambodian agricultural exports to China and find ways to further benefit the Cambodian people,” said China’s foreign ministry.
It said Wang regarded China and Cambodia as “hardcore friends, comprehensive strategic partners and members of a community with a shared destiny”.
Wang added that China and Cambodia should unite more closely than ever before so as to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the two countries and promote regional peace, stability and development.
“It is necessary for us to strengthen strategic communications, deepen strategic coordination, jointly implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and promote China-Cambodia and China-ASEAN relations to achieve greater development,” Wang was quoted as saying in the press statement.
Sokhonn said Cambodia and China have successfully advanced “Belt and Road” infrastructure projects and that economic and trade cooperation have maintained a strong development momentum.
He noted that China has become Cambodia’s largest trading partner, investor and source of tourists.
“At the bilateral meeting, we reaffirmed our commitment to building resilience against Covid-19, strengthening the economy by enabling the recovery of the tourism sector and boosting infrastructure development as well as energy and technical cooperation, among others. Cambodia deeply values China’s invaluable support and lasting friendship,” Sokhonn said in a Facebook post on December 5.
Regarding the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) framework, the two foreign ministers agreed to expedite the implementation of the MLC Five-Year Plan of Action.
Sokhonn also thanked China for approving the financing for a total of 67 Cambodian projects under the MLC framework with $26 million in funding.