Cambodia called on the Chinese government to continue supporting the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Special Fund so that it may grow into its full potential, after China recently provided more than $4 million for 2022 to Cambodia through the mechanism.

Sok Soken, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that in response to the critical Covid-19 outbreak, the MLC had played a leading role in strengthening regional trust in the multilateral framework.

“They showed themselves to be good neighbours and invaluable friends, as the old saying goes, helping friends in times of need will be rewarded with friendly help for your good deed,” he said.

Soken made the remarks at the National Consultation Workshop on Economic Diplomacy within the “New Normal” organised by the ministry’s Economic Diplomacy Coordinating Group, with the support by the MLC Special Fund on June 27.

He also praised China’s commitment to the establishment of the MLC’s Public Health Community and its leading role in providing medicines, medical supplies and millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the Mekong countries in a timely manner, especially to Cambodia because this had greatly contributed to the success of the national vaccination campaign and the reopening of the country in November.

“These achievements are robust testaments to the effectiveness and success of the MLC framework. I am strongly hopeful that [China] continues supporting the initiatives being carried out under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Special Fund in order to reach its growth potential,” Soken said.

He also praised the “active” participation of the economic diplomacy working group in promoting MLC and close cooperation with the MLC’s national secretariats in the past.

On June 13, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn and Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian signed the $4 million agreement for the support of 13 new projects to further contribute to addressing development needs in Cambodia.

At the event, Wang said the situation outside the region is becoming more chaotic and so the countries within the region must pay close attention to these developments and show strong leadership together and strive to achieve robust, green and prosperous economic development.

“Under the two sides’ joint efforts, the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Cambodia has been continuously enhanced. The building of a common destiny community between China and Cambodia has become more in-depth and is at its best stage ever in history,” he said.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the NGO People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said the MLC and China specifically had greatly contributed to the prevention and control of the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia, proving its usefulness.

He said Cambodia has also received a great deal of support from several other countries in the fight against Covid-19, such as the US, UK, Japan, Australia and the EU, among others, noting that it remains in Cambodia’s best interests to maintain friendly relations with all of its partners.