Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has agreed to a request from Cambodia to provide financial support for the development of Preah Sihanouk province.
The request was made on Sunday by Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits under the theme “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” in Bangkok.
Mr Hun Sen posted on his official Facebook page that he made the request during a closed-door meeting with Mr Li, during which he noted an influx of Chinese people and investment in Sihanoukville.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen requested his Chinese counterpart to support development in Preah Sihanouk province because many Chinese companies are investing there,” he said in the post. “The Chinese premier expressed his support for development projects in Preah Sihanouk province. He said that the two countries will hold special discussions on grants to support development.”
During their meeting, Mr Hun Sen also requested for the fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee between China and Cambodia to be held in Sihanoukville before the end of this year.
“The Chinese premier said that China will support the planning of this meeting and both sides will discuss the finances needed [to develop Sihanoukville] during the meeting,” he noted.
Mr Hun Sen said both nations also discussed progress in jointly combating cross-border crimes thorough initiatives under the “Year of Law Enforcement Cooperation” launched between the two sides last November.
Kheang Phearom, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman, yesterday said he was too busy to comment on the issue.
However, provincial Governor Kuoch Chamroeun said in August that China continues to be the top investor in several industries in the province, including manufacturing, transportation and logistics, tourism, gambling and construction.
He noted that 819 construction projects were given the green light in 2007 and the province now boasts of 218 buildings higher than five storeys.
“Our province has been lucky to receive a lot of investments over the last few years, especially from China, that contribute to its development and improves people’s lives,” he noted.
The Economic and Financial Policy Committee in September held a meeting to discuss a plan proposed by the Transport Ministry to improve Sihanoukville’s infrastructure, which was estimated to cost $170 million.
However, the government only allocated $100 million from the national budget and this had to be used to urgently renovate wastewater treatment systems and repair roads in Sihanoukville following recent floods that struck the city.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said he welcomes Mr Li’s promise to help develop Sihanoukville.
“Regarding the promise to provide assistance to develop Sihanoukville, I think it reflects the comprehensive strategic partnership cooperation between the two nations,” he said. “I have noted there is an influx of Chinese investment in Sihanoukville and since the current infrastructure in the city is inadequate, I think China’s assistance is necessary.”
“The assistance will also serve as an example to other countries that good cooperation with China will result in fast development and demonstrate that other countries should similarly cooperate with the Kingdom without interfering in its internal affairs,” Mr Phea added.
Xinhua News Agency reported that during their meeting, Mr Li also told Mr Hun Sen that China will support the Kingdom’s efforts to safeguard its sovereignty and security.
“[Mr Li] noted that China supports Cambodia’s choice of a development path which suits its national interests and also the government’s efforts to safeguard sovereignty and security, as well as grow the country’s economy to improve the well-being of its people,” the report said.
It said that Mr Hun Sen spoke highly of the two countries’ fruitful work in jointly carrying out Belt and Road projects and their effective cooperation in the field of law enforcement.
“Cambodia stands ready to hold talks with China and sign a free trade agreement between the two countries as soon as possible,” Xinhua quoted Mr Hun Sen as saying, adding that he also noted that his country welcomes more investments from Chinese companies.