The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Thursday released three letters from King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Affairs minister Prak Sokhonn that were delivered to the Chinese government in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of Cambodian-Chinese diplomatic relations.
The letters reiterated Cambodia’s firm support for the One China Policy and acknowledged the benefits gained from the country’s Belt and Road Initiative. The letters released by the ministry were dated late June and early July.
In his letter, King Sihamoni thanked China for its hospitality shown to him and his mother.
“I note with great satisfaction the growing political trust and official exchanges at all levels between our two countries, and highly appreciate the cordial hospitality accorded to me and our Queen Mother every time we visit China.
“Cambodia steadfastly adheres to the One China Policy, while China wholeheartedly supports Cambodia’s choice of development path,” the King’s letter said.
Hun Sen’s letter praised China for being a major donor to Cambodia and the biggest source of foreign direct investment. It noted that China is now the source of the most number of tourists to the Kingdom, while bilateral trade grew to $5.5 billion last year.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry also released an interview given by Sokhonn to the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper.
In the interview, Sokhonn said that since Cambodia and China promoted their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Cooperation in 2010, the frequent visits between officials of both nations have not only “bolstered political trust between our countries, but also deepened and expanded our cooperation in all sectors”.
Sokhonn praised the Belt and Road Initiative in Cambodia, including the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway, planned new airports in Siem Reap province and Phnom Penh, and other projects agreed to during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Cambodia early this year.
Professor of political science So Chantha said Cambodia should balance its relations with all countries. He warned that being too close to China could result in debt expansion.
“If Cambodia depends only on China, it could fall into a debt trap akin to Sri Lanka’s. Cambodia also should learn from past experience and how China entirely supported the Khmer Rouge.”
Likewise, Lao Mong Hay, a political analyst, said Cambodia was firmly planting itself in China’s corner, thereby violating its foreign policy of permanent neutrality as enshrined in the constitution.