Prime Minister Hun Sen’s burnished his long-standing “One China” credentials on Saturday, saying the powerful northern neighbour’s rise was a boon for ASEAN and warning an audience of some 4,000-5,000 against displaying either the Taiwanese or Tibetan flags.
Speaking at a dinner held by the Association of Khmer-Chinese, the premier said good relations with the regional giant were a boon to the Kingdom, which has accepted hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of low-interest loans in recent years.
“China’s rise does not threaten anyone,” said Hun Sen. “Through . . . the implementation of the Belt and Road [trade] initiatives, [China’s rise] will benefit ASEAN countries.”
“In the case of Taiwan, I request that Khmer-Chinese refrain from celebrating Taiwanese holidays and brandishing the Taiwanese flag, as it is prohibited,” he said, adding the same applied to Tibet.
And while Cambodia remains open to Taiwanese investors and travellers, his government will “not allow a Taiwanese embassy to open in Phnom Penh”, he said.
Future Forum think tank head Ou Virak said Hun Sen’s tack was an undoubtedly sensible one.
“If we change our stance, China will consider us its enemy,” he said, adding that, until recently, the US had studiously adhered to the “One China” policy.
“If I were prime minister, I would do the same.”