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Hun Sen endorses ‘One China’

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Xi Jinping, president of China and the Communist Party, and Prime Minister Hun Sen shake hands in October at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Hun Sen endorses ‘One China’

Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed the country’s commitment to supporting Beijing’s One China policy during a meeting with a Chinese official, a stance one expert called “obsequious”.

State-run media outlet AKP quoted Kao Kim Hourn, an official attached to the Prime Minister in charge of foreign affairs, as saying the premiere had on Friday “reiterated the Kingdom’s irreversible stance” during a meeting with Sun Chunlan, a member of the Communist Party of China’s central committee. Kim Hourn said he was unable to answer questions when reached yesterday.

According to a summary of the meeting posted on the premier’s Facebook page, Hun Sen thanked China for its contributions to the development of the Kingdom, and said China’s aid supported the country’s “political sovereignty”.

“China has contributed so much to the development of Cambodia,” the post reads.

Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer of the University of New South Wales, said Hun Sen’s embrace of the One China policy represented a “mix of realism combined with a dash of opportunism”.

“Hun Sen has perfected the art of being obsequious toward Beijing in order to solicit aid and political support,” he said in an email. “Chinese aid to projects in Cambodia serve[s] to bolster the Hun Sen regime as he can direct the funding toward projects that garner the most domestic support.”

But Cambodia’s devotion to the One China policy has rankled Taiwan in the past. Last year, tensions ran high as the Kingdom refused to send a group of criminal suspects back to Taiwan, instead deporting them to mainland China.

Frances Lee, spokeswoman for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, yesterday said that Taiwan wanted a “constructive relationship with Cambodia based on the principle of mutual respect”.

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