Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM hails China as strategic partner

PM hails China as strategic partner

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Xi Jinping, president of China and the Communist Party, and Prime Minister Hun Sen shake hands in October 2016. Hong Menea

PM hails China as strategic partner

Prime Minister Hun Sen defended Chinese support and investment in Cambodia on Monday at the inauguration of an overpass in Phnom Penh, hailing the two nations’ “partnership in comprehensive strategies”.

During the inauguration of the Dey Hoy Sky Bridge in the capital’s Sen Sok district, which cost an estimated $17 million and was funded by China, Hun Sen praised the relationship between the two countries.

The prime minister said Cambodia, like other Asean nations, had gained greatly from China’s efforts to increase trade.

He said Asean had benefited from the region’s export of goods to the Chinese market, which outweighed the import of Chinese goods into Asean.

Hun Sen said since 2010 Cambodia and China had been partners in “comprehensive strategies”. Chinese President Xi Jinping said on a state visit in 2016 that his nation’s relationship with Cambodia is a “steel friendship”.

The prime minister hit out at the hypocrisy of certain countries which criticised Chinese investment in Cambodia while at the same time negotiating for it.

“These countries are dying to do business with China, so why are they prohibiting Cambodia from doing so? What are the reasons? Countries in Europe are flying to Beijing to negotiate with China to import goods, to invest and do business with that country."

Hun Sen also defended the presence of the Chinese working in Cambodia, saying they were in the Kingdom because it was not yet able to supply enough skilled workers to meet demand.

“On the presence of Chinese workers in our country … please don’t be misinformed – this is the result of the hundreds of construction sites throughout Cambodia. We don’t have sufficient skilled labour to provide for all the Chinese projects, so they are necessary."

“For example, in the construction of a bridge, there is the need for [skilled] Chinese technicians to work side by side with Cambodian workers. We do not have enough skilled workers for the hundreds of Chinese construction sites, both state-owned and private.”

Hen Sen also pointed to the influx of Chinese tourists to Cambodia over the past year as bringing economic benefits. “Last year over one million Chinese tourists came to Cambodia, bringing money into the Kingdom,” he said.

According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism, in 2017, Cambodia received 5.6 million tourists, including 1,210,782 Chinese who brought $3.638 million in revenue into the national economy and contributed 13 percent to the gross domestic product.

In the first four months of this year, Cambodia received 647,352 Chinese visitors – up 79.4 percent, the figures reveal.

The prime minister’s words coincided with yesterday’s launch of a book, written by CPP lawmaker Sous Yara and author Kem Rothviseth, praising China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the development of Cambodia.

Belt and Road Initiative and Cambodia’s Development, available in both Khmer and English, was written to mark this year’s 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Chheang Vannarith, the co-founder and vice-chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, who was a speaker at the book launch in Phnom Penh, said political trust, economic interests, and strategic convergence are the foundation of Cambodia-China relations.

He said Cambodia held a similar worldview to China, in which a multi-polar world order is being formed with China as one of the global powers.

He said China’s economic presence in Cambodia “contributes remarkably to the legitimacy of the CPP-led government, such as with increasing infrastructure development and employment opportunities”.

But he also said China should improve its image by paying more attention to the legitimate concerns and interests of the local community. He did not give examples, however.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said being close to China would also present negative impacts on Cambodia.

“Strengthening ties with China will increase our prime minister’s anti-American stance and erode democracy, the respect for human rights and the observance of the rule of law in a free society."

“Cambodia’s subservience to China will hasten that country’s colonisation of the Kingdom, with Chinese settlers and the planting of Chinese companies employing its nationals,” he said.

He expressed doubts as to the necessity of all the Chinese workers currently in the Kingdom. “I have seen Chinese construction workers who are not necessarily highly skilled and are taking jobs from Cambodians.

“And who knows if they will return home after their contracts end,” Mong Hay said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Reports: Rainsy barred from Jakarta flight

    Sam Rainsy was on Wednesday refused entry to a flight from Malaysia to Indonesia, media reported late on Wednesday. The “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s announced return to the Kingdom on Independence Day on Saturday failed to occur. Rainsy

  • Government studying EU’s preliminary report on EBA

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Wednesday said the government was studying the EU Commission’s preliminary report on the human rights situation in the Kingdom that could lead to a suspension of access to its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement. The

  • Gov’t: Rainsy’s ‘coup plot’ a failure

    The government on Wednesday commended the Kingdom’s security forces for thwarting the attempted “coup plot” by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy through his announced return to Cambodia on November 9. The comments came as Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue

  • Phnom Penh International Airport wins award as passenger traffic soars

    The Phnom Penh International Airport has been awarded Best Asia Pacific Regional Airport 2019 for its sustained high growth in passenger traffic in recent years. The award was presented by the Capa Centre for Aviation (Capa) – a world-leading and trusted organisation that provides market intelligence to

  • Rainsy blocked from boarding flight to Jakarta

    Sam Rainsy was on Wednesday refused entry to a flight from Malaysia to Indonesia, media reported late on Wednesday. The "acting president" of the Cambodia National Rescue Party's announced return to the Kingdom on Independence Day on Saturday failed to occur. Rainsy arrived in Kuala

  • Tour guides question animal release ban in Angkor moat

    The Khmer Angkor Tour Guide Association (Katga) called on the Apsara National Authority to reconsider its decision banning all animals from being released into the moat surrounding the Angkor Wat temple after the authority prohibited the action for the sake of visitors’ safety. An Apsara