Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong said that China has provided about $140 million in grants for urgent development projects in the Kingdom.
The grant came as Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi gave a diplomatic note to the Kingdom at a meeting on Sunday with Namhong during his two-day visit to Cambodia.
In a statement yesterday, Namhong said the grant will be used for projects in Sihanoukville, including a submarine optical fibre cable to Hong Kong, construction on National Road 71C, rural power transmission lines and to boost rice production and export.
He said that the money will also be used for irrigation and flood protection projects in Kampong Speu province’s Prek Tnaot river and expanding and upgrading National Roads 41, 33 and 31.
Wang was quoted in Namhong’s statement as saying that after COVID-19, China and Cambodia will develop a joint development plan, adding that China will expand cooperation in other fields.
Wang also met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn.
Mr Hun Sen witnessed the signing of the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and an agreement on economic and technical cooperation for grant provision.
He also witnessed the Exchange of Note for the Feasibility Study on the Project of Improvement of Preah Sihanouk Provincial Referral Hospital and the Exchange of Note for the Feasibility Study on the Project of the Municipal Sewerage System Development Project for the province.
Mr Hun Sen’s personal assistant Eang Sophalleth quoted Wang to reporters as saying that Mr Hun Sen’s visit to China in February during the pandemic reflected his caring and kind-hearted nature towards the Chinese people and government as well as the strong bond between Cambodia and China.
Sophalleth said Wang lauded Mr Hun Sen for his kindness toward people when he allowed stranded passengers on the MS Westerdam cruise vessel to dock in Sihanoukville after it was rejected to dock by a number of countries due to fears over the spread of COVID-19.
“Mr Hun Sen then made Cambodia known internationally as a small country with a big heart,” Wang was quoted as saying.
Sophalleth said Wang told Mr Hun Sen his talks with Namhong and Sokhonn had reached an agreement to push for deeper cooperation between the two sides.
“Wang told Mr Hun Sen that China will support Cambodia to maintain its sovereignty and dignity,” he said. “Mr Hun Sen appreciated the fruitful talk amongst the three.”
Sophalleth said Mr Hun Sen lauded China, which has successfully fought against the spread of COVID-19, saying that: “China has a population of more than 1 billion, but those who are suffering due to the pandemic are low in percentage when compared with other countries.”
On August 12, the European Union (EU) announced its official decision to partially withdraw Cambodia’s duty-free, quota-free access to the 27-nation bloc.
Sophalleth said Mr Hun Sen thanked China for proving assistance to the Kingdom, saying that the signing of the agreement on the CCFTA is crucial, adding “the EBA status will one day be lost, but the CCFTA will last forever.”
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey told Khmer Times yesterday that assistance from other countries is good if it does not impose conditions which make the aid-obtaining country become internationally isolated.
He said providing assistance to the Kingdom should be made on the grounds of mutual help.
Wang’s visit will further strengthen the long-lasting relations of traditional friendship, solidarity, fraternity and fruitful cooperation between Cambodia and China in light of the unprecedented global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on Friday.
The Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute director Kin Phea said that Wang’s visit came as Cambodia seems to have not so good relations with the US and EU.
“Better relations with China should not become an obstacle which causes the Kingdom to break relations with other countries,” he said.
“We need to have relations with countries all over the world to ensure that we have a diversity of diplomacy and markets,” Phea said.