Four days after the creation of the new government, Prime Minister Hun Sen left Cambodia on Monday for the 15th China-Asean Expo in Nanning city and an Asean meeting in Vietnamese capital Hanoi.
High-ranking officials said the foreign trips were made as invitations to Cambodia as a fully legitimate government.
Ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan told The Post yesterday that Hun Sen will attend the China-Asean Expo in his capacity as co-chair of the event – one considered important in opening trade markets.
Eysan said: “[The event] is meaningful and [will help] open markets in order to expand and strengthen business relations.”
He said after finishing being the co-chair of the China-Asean meeting, Hun Sen will attend a prime ministerial-level Asean summit in the Vietnamese capital.
He is set to return to Phnom Penh on September 13.
Political analyst Em Sovannara said in attending the China-Asean Expo, Cambodia is already being welcomed on good diplomatic terms.
But within the Asean framework, the Kingdom is not in a strong position as some countries, such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei, are locked in a dispute with China over the South China Sea.
Sovannara said that as Cambodia is the co-chair of the China-Asean Expo then “its task would be to urge Asean to improve its relationships with China”.
He said: “In this regard, Cambodia as a leader can push or help encourage the relationship between Asean and China to be better.”
“Cambodia may get a lot of benefit from its relationship with China as the Kingdom is an Asean member,” he said.
“But a worrying factor is how much support the Kingdom will get from Asean because of its relationship with China?”
Sovannara said the arrival of Chinese investment in Cambodia, may have some negative effects for the Kingdom too.
“A lot of Chinese are investing in the Kingdom, but Cambodia still lacks the capacity to manage the side-effects of Chinese investment, which affect public order, security, local traditions and habits,” he said.
He said the Kingdom is also unable to monitor the Chinese workforce in Cambodia.
A Ministry of Foreign Affair press release said Hun Sen is to have separate bilateral meetings with the prime ministers of Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Laos, and Taro Kono, the Japanese minister of foreign affairs on the sidelines of the Hanoi forum.