Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday visited China to show support for a good friend. He is the first world leader to do so following the Novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Hun Sen flew to Beijing from Seoul where he had attended a global conference in South Korea.
The Prime Minister met President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to voice support for China’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 492 people worldwide, the majority being in China, and infected more than 24,500 people across 25 countries.
During his meeting with Mr Xi, Mr Hun Sen said that his visit was to support the Chinese government and people in the efforts to tackle the outbreak.
“My visit is to show solidarity with China during a difficult time and to encourage Cambodian students in the country not to panic over the outbreak,” Kao Kim Hourn, Minister Delegate Attached to the Prime Minister quoted Mr Hun Sen as saying after the meeting. “Further, this visit is to tell my people in Cambodia and the world that coronavirus is not a big deal, but panic is a big issue.”
Mr Hun Sen also told Mr Xi he won’t use the mask the Chinese government prepared for him and shook hands with Mr Li who had just come back from Wuhan city, the epicentre of the outbreak and which was locked down.
“I didn’t use the mask that our Chinese friends prepared for me and I also shook hands with His Excellency Li who just came back from Wuhan,” Mr Kim Hourn quoted Mr Hun Sen as saying. “If I was fearful and had to use a mask, I would not have come here.”
Mr Hun Sen yesterday led a Cambodian delegation from Seoul where he joined the Universal Peace Federation World Summit 2020 held from Monday to yesterday.
In response, Mr Xi thanked Mr Hun Sen for being the first world leader to visit China during the outbreak to show support, Mr Kim Hourn said.
“We would like to thank Cambodia and Prime Minister Hun Sen who always stands with China and supports us anytime, especially now during the outbreak of coronavirus,” he quoted Mr Xi as saying. “China has faced a lot of difficulties but we have managed to solve the problems.”
Mr Xi added that the Chinese government will take care of Cambodian students who are studying in Wuhan and treat them as relatives, adding that the coronavirus situation now is under control.
“Cambodia and Prime Minister Hun Sen are ironclad friends of China,” the Chinese president added.
During the meeting, Mr Xi also lauded King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Monineath Sihanouk who shared their deep condolences with China and provided $150,000 in donation.
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, there are 23 Cambodian students in Wuhan city and all are in good health. It said their Chinese university provides food for some of the students, while the others buy food from the nearest shops to the campus.
The Cambodian government provided $11,500 to support their living expenses and created a WeChat group to communicate with them.
Mr Hun Sen flew back to Cambodia last night and posted on his Facebook page he regretted being unable to visit the Cambodian students in Wuhan city.
“Uncle [Mr Hun Sen] regrets that I could not meet you all,” the post said. “I would like to call on all the students to follow the advice from the university and local authorities to avoid getting infected by the coronavirus and wish you all keep healthy. I hope I will meet you soon.”