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PM vows to ‘protect’ Chinese interests

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Prime Minister Hun Sen shakes hands with China’s First Vice-Premier Han Zheng at the China-Asean Expo in Nanning on Tuesday. HUN SEN VIA FACEBOOK

PM vows to ‘protect’ Chinese interests

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday told Chinese companies investing in Cambodia not to worry about contract cancellation in the Kingdom.

Speaking at a roundtable meeting with business executives in China as co-chair of the China-Asean Expo, the prime minister told six Chinese conglomerates with a presence in the Kingdom that his government will continue to protect the interests of all Chinese companies.

“The new government in the 6th mandate under [Hun Sen’s] leadership will continue to safeguard the interests of all Chinese firms in Cambodia,” the prime minister said on his Facebook page.

He encouraged Chinese firms to continue investing in Cambodia as the country still has plenty of untapped potential.

He also highlighted his government’s proposals for more concessional loans from China to build the Kingdom’s infrastructure, which would link Cambodia to other Asean members and China.

But analysts said Cambodia’s partnership with China could cut both ways.

Political analyst Em Sovannara said Cambodia would be at a disadvantage if it could not cushion the negative effects of Chinese investment in the Kingdom.

“It is good in terms of Sino-Cambodian relations and for mutual relations within the Asean framework. It is a positive sign to develop the Kingdom,” he said.

To lessen the negative effects, he said Cambodia needs to use effective law enforcement to handle the influx of Chinese nationals, some of whom have caused public disorder in the country.

Sovannara added that Cambodia would be better off cementing partnerships with Western countries instead.

“For sustainable development, [Cambodia] should maintain good relations with Western countries, including the EU and the US."

“That would be a good approach for Cambodia."

“The good relations with China had made Cambodian government officials neglect its relationship with Western countries. The major long-term benefits would come from the West,” he said.

San Chey, the executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said only transparent investment could contribute to the Cambodian economy.

He said the government should not turn a blind eye to investment that could affect national interests, social order, security and Cambodian tradition, especially investment that involved gambling.

“Chinese investment in Preah Sihanouk province is a bad example that the government should try to avoid as it looks to develop Cambodia in the future.”

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