The US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday said relations between China and Cambodia did not create jobs or help industry when compared to the trade between the Kingdom and the US.
“About 87 per cent of trade [with China] are Chinese imports, which do not support jobs or industry in the same way Cambodia’s trade relationship with the United States or the EU does. This is just one more way Cambodia has shifted from a more balanced and diverse economic approach to one more dependent on China,” the US embassy wrote on its Facebook page.
On Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh took to Facebook to outline its development of infrastructure in Cambodia, including constructing 31 highways and eight bridges over a total length of more than 3,000km, as well as building hydroelectric dams.
“It is common sense that in a globalised world, trade goes far beyond the bilateral. In the case of Cambodia, it imports large amounts of textile raw materials and machinery from China for the garment industry, while it exports the final products all over the world, the US and EU included. In this case, it is the most active of Cambodian workers who serve the industrial sectors,” the Chinese embassy said.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday in Battambang province that Cambodia had placed building relations with all nations firmly at the centre of its foreign policy.
“Some have accused [Cambodia] of turning to China so much and not to the West. But this is not our intention. In fact, we build relations with all countries as per the Constitution. We do so with all, as we are doing currently, with China as well as the US, and the EU too,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith wrote on his personal Facebook account on Saturday that it is “possibly only in Cambodia that an embassy would release fake news attacking the host country and a state it has diplomatic relations with”.
“Analysts here try to show that only trade with the US creates jobs in Cambodia, but they ‘forget’ to show a very important thing in economics – how much investment is coming into Cambodia. We want to build good relations with all countries, especially the US, but some people try to harm this because of their own negative mindset,” he continued.
US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes declined to comment on Sunday.
Sok Touch, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on Sunday that the exchange between the US and Chinese embassies reflected a history of powerful countries seeking to use Cambodia for their own gain.
“This cannot make Cambodia walk on the same historical path because the Kingdom has a wise policy of not regarding anyone as its enemy and welcoming all countries provided they help Cambodian development."
“Cambodia is a developing country, a country seeking partners by using a multilateral policy in which it is not important what that nation is. The important thing is that they benefit Cambodia,” Touch said.
This is not the first time the two country’s embassies have exchanged barbs over social media.
In February this year, the Chinese embassy mocked their US counterparts over claims made on the US embassy’s Facebook page denying their country’s involvement in the 1970 Lon Nol coup d’etat that overthrew Prince Norodom Sihanouk.