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China Gives $600 Million After South China Sea Support

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Prime Minister Hun Sen [left] and Li Keqiang meeting on the sideline of the Asia-Europe Summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on Thursday. (Supplied)

Prime Minister Hun Sen said China was planning to give 3.6 billion Yuan in grant aid to Cambodia for development between 2016 and 2018. 

The premier said he met with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The aid, worth almost $600 million, will be used for “electoral processes, health,  education, clean water and wells,” Mr. Hun Sen said.  

“I have met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to discuss a strengthening of cooperation between Cambodia and China on issues in the region and internationally which both parties are paying attention to,” the prime minister wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.

The massive grant package comes just days after Cambodia helped stop a joint ASEAN statement in support of a verdict by the Court of Arbitration at The Hague last Tuesday in favor of the Philippines, which says China is violating its territorial sovereignty by claiming and militarily developing atolls in the South China Sea. 

A number of ASEAN countries hold similar complaints about China’s actions in the sea, which is one of the world busiest shipping routes.

“We, Cambodia, will not issue any statement in any form whatsoever on the tribunal’s ruling on the South China Sea case,” Mr. Hun Sen said while attending his cabinet minister meeting last Friday.

Cambodia has long been accused of bias towards China due to the massive financial support and international backing they receive from the country. As members of ASEAN, they have repeatedly stopped the regional bloc from releasing statements defying China on the South China Sea issue. 
 
In 2012, as hosts of an ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia shelved a joint communiqué criticizing China for its development in the Spratly Islands. Last month, at a joint ASEAN-China meeting in Kunming, Cambodia worked with other countries to retract a statement in support of the Philippines ahead of the Hague court verdict. 

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