China has reiterated its support for legal action against opposition leader Kem Sokha as Prime Minister Hun Sen continues his official visit to the country for the 14th China-Asean Expo in Guangxi province.
According to a Facebook post by Mr Hun Sen on Monday, the support was offered at a meeting with Song Tao, head of the Communist Party of China’s international department.
“China would like to thank Samdech, who always supports China’s core interests,” Mr Song reportedly said. “Our brotherly ties are strong and no foreign force can divide them.
“As our brother, if Cambodia faces difficulties, it can ask its Chinese friends for help and we will not look away.”
At another meeting, Mr Hun Sen said Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli told him to inform China about any assistance required on priority projects.
Wang Jiarui, vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, last week visited Cambodia and backed the government’s arrest of Mr Sokha on treason charges.
Mr Hun Sen earlier called on foreign countries not to interfere with Cambodian affairs after Mr Sokha was arrested and charged with conspiracy with a foreign power.
However, Mr Sokha’s arrest and detention was widely condemned by the international community, including the EU, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, America and Australia, who called for his immediate release.
According to Mr Hun Sen’s Facebook page, China has offered to educate its people about how Cambodia is a peaceful and developing country through Chinese media.
Mr Hun Sen added that China had agreed to provide more cooperation and human resources for construction work in Cambodia, while the Chinese government would be involved with building a new Siem Reap airport and high speed railway.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said China’s support was based on collaboration between the countries.
“If that relationship benefits Cambodia, then the government will engage in it,” he said, adding the support of China would not affect its relations with other countries.
The case against Mr Sokha is based on video footage published by the Australia-based news outlet CBN, in which he speaks of being tutored by the US to lead regime change in Cambodia.
The opposition CNRP party refused to accept the charges against their leader, calling them unconstitutional and saying Mr Sokha must be treated as innocent until proven guilty.