The Chinese government has agreed to continue to support Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government despite reform pressure from the European Union and the United States to restore democracy.
“China will continue to increase its cooperation with Cambodia,” Mr Hun Sen said yesterday on his Facebook page. “The Chinese president said Cambodia will be victorious for 60 years to come.”
Mr Hun Sen and his delegation are currently in China on an official state visit to meet with President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese government officials to strengthen Sino-Khmer relations.
Mr Xi in the past praised Cambodia as a “good neighbouring country” and reiterated his support for Mr Hun Sen and the ruling CPP.
Following last year’s election, Mr Xi congratulated Mr Hun Sen and the CPP for securing all 125 parliamentary seats.
During his meet with Mr Xi yesterday, Mr Hun Sen raised a number of issues, including the presence of Chinese nationals in the Kingdom, the political situation after the general election, the government’s reform programmes and the prevention of external meddling in Cambodia’s internal affairs.
Mr Hun Sen also asked Mr Xi to help push for more Chinese investors to come and develop the Kingdom, especially the garment industry.
Mr Xi said Cambodia will always have a friend in China.
“There’s something special about the relationship between Samdech Techo, the CPP and Chinese leaders,” he said, adding that China will continue to help Cambodia in the sectors of politics, security and the economy. “It is a high-degree relationship when compared to other countries.”
According to Mr Hun Sen’s Facebook post, Mr Xi has also agreed to import Cambodian rice.
“The Chinese president said China will continue to import 400,000 tonnes of Cambodian milled rice and to boost trade to up to $10 billion by 2023,” it said. “China will also provide about $600 million in grants for Cambodia for the next three years.”
Ly Sreysros, member of the Young Analyst Group, yesterday said the agreement to continue to import rice from Cambodia was made as the European Union imposes tariffs on Cambodian rice.
“It is good that China has decided to buy milled rice from Cambodia,” Ms Sreysros said, noting that the relationship between Cambodia and China is mutually benefiting. “Cambodia is a labour market of China and Cambodia is an important place for China.”
However, she warned that Cambodia must be wary when accepting loans from China, fearing the Kingdom’s inability to pay off its debt, especially during a shift in Cambodia’s political situation.