China’s Foreign Ministry referred to Cambodia as a “small but strong country” during a press conference late last week, in a speech that raised eyebrows of social observers.
Marking 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Hua Chunying, spokesman for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said: “Although Cambodia is a small country, it showed its strong will in resisting pressure and other political influences.”
Responding to the remarks, San Chey, director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said praise from China wouldn’t do much to serve the Kingdom’s interests.
Soeng Sen Karona, spokesperson of human rights NGO Adhoc, added that the Kingdom’s garment sector relied heavily on the EU and US, but not China.
“The praise of China has no bearing on Cambodia’s economy, especially for the textile and garment sector. The praise of China could damage Cambodia’s image with western countries,” Chey said.
Linking the praise with growing Chinese investment in the Kingdom Sen Karona said: “China has a lot of benefits in term of investment in Cambodia ... If [China] does not praise Cambodia, it means that there is a problem impacting the relations.”
But Sok Eysan, spokesperson of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), dismissed any allegation, saying China brings developmental benefits to Cambodia.
Eysan added that “China has interest in Cambodia because, if we think, Cambodia has a smaller population than China’s ... China is the world’s new super economy”.