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A friend in need is a friend indeed

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of National Road No. 10 in Pursat province yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that China is the most important development partner of Cambodia. He said there is nothing wrong for Cambodia to forge close relationship with China. China is not a “monster”.

In early February, PM Hun Sen visited China to express spiritual support to the Chinese government and people at the peak of the outbreak of Covid-19. At the bilateral meeting in Beijing last month, President Xi Jinping told the Cambodian counterpart that “a friend indeed is a friend in need”, while mentioning that this is a new era of the bilateral relationship. Mr Hun Sen can visit China anytime, as an ironclad friend of this second largest world economic power.

Some Chinese social media users called Mr Hun Sen a “gentleman who walks the opposite direction”. Many Chinese were touched by the visit and warm support extended by Cambodia. In the eyes of Chinese people, Cambodia is the reliable friend.

The Garment Manufacturer’s Association of Cambodia last month said more than 60 percent of raw materials used in factories in the Kingdom are imported from China.

Government officials have estimated up to 30,000 garment factory workers could lose their jobs this month if the situation does not improve. And, China delivers by coming to Cambodia’s rescue.

Cambodia is facing challenges from the lack of supplies of raw materials to support its garment and footwear industries. According to Mr Hun Sen, China has sent seven sea liners to ship raw materials to supply garment and footwear industries in Cambodia- five will dock at Sihanoukville and two will go via Ho Chi Minh City.

The supply of raw material in time will help sustain the production of hundreds of factories in the Kingdom, which in turn helps sustain jobs and incomes for the workers. This is a crucial time for Cambodia as the country is badly hit by the global impact of the outbreak of Covid-19.

China has proven once again it puts into action, what it says or commits. China said Cambodia would get priority when production in China resumed and the arrival of some 60 containers filled with buttons, zips and textile from China are scheduled to arrive in Cambodia directly and some through Vietnam due to proximity.

Cambodia and China share moments of happiness and sorrow, which is why China is finding quick ways to supply raw materials to the Kingdom because of the shortage. It is hoped that when full production resumes in earnest in China, it will give Cambodia priority or due consideration to supply sufficient raw materials to avoid suspensions or shutdowns in factory operations, thus ensuring wages are not affected.

The annual bilateral military exercise called “Golden Dragon” will be conducted as normal. The exercise is the landmark military-to-military cooperation on capacity building in addressing non-traditional security threats such as natural disasters and terrorism.

The bilateral relationship has been tested by how both countries work together in the war against Covid-19. Therefore, it is surely predicted that, the bilateral relationship will produce new results in the post-Covid-19.

Cambodia, notwithstanding its size and power, has shown its sincere friendship and reliable strategic partnership towards China. What Cambodia needs is mutual respect and interests. China has consistently shown respect to Cambodia and vice versa. Cambodia has more strategic choices thanks to China.

China has helped Cambodia to expand its strategic space. For China, Cambodia is an important partner. China helps strengthen the strategic weight of Cambodia. China is a strategic magnet- it helps draw the attention and interests from other countries to Cambodia.

For those who punish or criticise, Cambodia for being close to China, they themselves will learn that China is a global power with whom they have to be friends with.

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