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China promises over $850m in aid

China promises over $850m in aid

CHINA pledged more than US$850 million in loans and grants for infrastructure projects on Friday during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s three-day visit to the country, the foreign minister said Sunday.

Hun Sen met with China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, on the sidelines of a regional trade fair in the country’s Sichuan province, where China promised to fund $853 million worth of large-scale infrastructure projects in Cambodia, including hydropower dams and highways, Foreign Minister Hor
Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport after Hun Sen’s return from China.

“The money will be used for building roads, irrigation systems and dams, as well as bridge projects in Cambodia,” he said.

“Every time the prime minister travels abroad, he brings back benefits to the people and the nation,” he added.

Hor Namhong also said Wen Jiabao had promised an additional $10 million in aid to repair the damage wrought by Typhoon Ketsana and other natural disasters in Cambodia.

China is now the leading investor in Cambodian transport and agricultural infrastructure, Hor Namhong said, but some have questioned the transparency and accountability attached to Chinese aid packages.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said grants and loans were necessary for poor countries like Cambodia but warned that the loans should be used effectively. “There should be good governance and no corruption involved in using this budget,” he said.

“The government should be careful and inspect [the deal] in detail before borrowing money from other countries because the young generation will have to pay them back in the future.”

China pledged $600 million to Cambodia in 2007 and $260 million in 2008, most of which was earmarked for building roads, bridges and dams.

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