Senate President Hun Sen has reiterated that China should view Cambodia as a “trustworthy friend” and noted that although the Kingdom has changed its leader, its relations with China remain unchanged.

His remarks came during a May 23 meeting with Shohrat Zakir, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) of China, at Phnom Penh’s Senate headquarters.

“I asked our Chinese friends to look at Cambodia as a trustworthy friend. China can be assured that the change of Cambodia’s prime minister does not change its position regarding relations with China,” he said on May 23, via social media.

The two sides committed to strengthening their cooperation in the fight against transnational crime, online gambling, human trafficking and the dissemination of positive information. 

The commitment follows speculation by some international media bodies that the Kingdom is being used as a base by large numbers of Chinese “pig butchering” syndicates, who have been accused of trafficking people to run online scams.

Regarding the issue of a unified Taiwan, on May 21, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation reaffirmed that “Cambodia’s position on Taiwan is consistent”.

It said Cambodia firmly adheres to the one-China policy, recognising that the Chinese government is the only legitimate government representing China as a whole and that Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory.

“Cambodia opposes any attempt to use the Taiwan issue to interfere in China’s internal affairs, opposes any form of Taiwan independence, firmly supports all efforts by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to achieve national reunification, and will not develop any form of official relations with Taiwan,” said a statement by a ministry spokesman.

On May 20, Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, was sworn in after winning the January election.

Hun Sen, the former prime minister, said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Manet, the new seventh-mandate government is making an effort to strengthen existing relations, using new ideas to deepen this relationship. 

The senate president considered that China’s assistance not only helped to develop Cambodia’s economy, but also strengthened its political independence.

Shohrat said China considered Cambodia a priority and “strongly” supports its development path, in line with the real situation on the ground. He added that China is committed to advancing diamond cooperation and promoting the development of fish and rice and industrial and technological corridors for mutual benefit.

“The Chinese side is committed to cooperating with Cambodia to protect the sovereignty and security of the two countries.

“The Chinese side will also strive to deepen, modernise, innovate and share experiences with Cambodia in all areas,” he said, according to the social media post. 

Thong Mengdavid, a lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Institute for International Studies, told The Post that Cambodia-China relations are deeply rooted in Cambodian society and politics, leading to the establishment of free market agreements and comprehensive strategic partnerships.

He said despite the change of leadership, the Kingdom continues to adhere to the one-China policy and will strengthen and expand the two countries’ relations, especially in the fields of trade, people-to-people exchanges, culture, military, and regional cooperation as part of the creation of a China-Cambodia community with a shared future.

“China is not only a good friend of Cambodia, but China has also contributed to the development of Cambodia. It has done so through new and modern infrastructure, which is the lifeblood of the Cambodian economy and improves the livelihoods of the Cambodian people,” he explained.