China-Cambodia Relations Deepening, Greater Cooperation

AKP Phnom Penh, July 13, 2018 —

The two countries relations have been developed and deepening over the last six decades and both sides looked to greater fruitful cooperation in years to come, said H.E Xiong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Cambodia, told Cambodia’s state-run news agency, AKP, in an interview on Wednesday.

As the two countries mark its 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, H.E. Ambassador said that the two countries need to enhance in some areas.

People to people exchange

“China-Cambodia relations have been enjoying good mutual political trust and sound economic cooperation, so one area that needs to be enhanced is our people-to-people exchanges. We can put more efforts into this,” the Ambassador noticed.

He recalled that the older generation of the two Asian nations had known each other well for long time and “for Chinese we had been known then King Norodom Sihanouk. But for the younger generation between our two countries, the mutual understanding is not that sufficient given Cambodia has 70 percent of the population under 35 years. So, for the young generation we need to do more.”

In this respect, H.E. Xiong Bo said that tourism plays a key role in getting to know each other better.

“One area that we are vigorously promoting is our tourism industry. Our tourism cooperation we can see a very good trend and good momentum of development. The Chinese side is encouraging young Chinese tourists to visit Cambodia,” he said.

Chinese tourist number has exceeded 1.2 million in 2017, of which the young Chinese tourist accounts the most part, visited the Kingdom of Wonder.

“It is our hope at the same time that, Cambodia’s tourism industry facilitates along with reception availability that can achieve more improvement and in return that will create more favourable condition for large number of Chinese tourists.”

H.E. Ambassador, however, said that safety plays a vital role in attracting Chinese tourists.

“We would like to ensure the safety of Chinese tourists which is very important because we see that, recently in Thailand a tragedy happened,” he recalled an incident recently in the Thai’s sea in which around 50 Chinese lost their lives to the ship capsized that “caught in the eyes and hearts of many Chinese audiences”.

Education exchange

Beijing looks to provide greater support for Cambodia’s human resources to contribute Cambodia’s development and Beijing sees the potential of young Cambodians to study in China.

“We can put more efforts in our cooperation in education. We encourage and support young Cambodian people to seek scholarship to study in China or to take training classes in China. We encourage our cooperation between our universities and institutes to do more in this area”.

Law enforcement exchange

The ambassador said that some social crimes needs to be addressed properly that requires to enhance our cooperation in law enforcement, and security. “We see with the increasing numbers with exchanges of our two people, our mutual understanding is enhanced… with the large number of Chinese tourists and investment, there is also quite a number of Chinese people who come to Cambodia to do illegal gambling, especially online gambling”.

“These illegal gamblers in Cambodia they target and victimised mainly the normal Chinese people back at home,” he said.

H.E Xiong Bo said that, the illegal gamblers lack a certain degree of respect for Cambodia’s laws and orders so they have caused some problems and disturbed security.

“If this problem is not properly addressed it will not only damage the interest of Chinese people but also makes a negative influence on Cambodia’s social orders and security. It will damage the good public support between our two countries,” he warned.

“At the time, this problem could be used by those, especially some foreign forces, who do not like to see the smooth relations and development between our two nations. In this respect, it deserves our enhance cooperation between the law enforcement departments and they can strictly combat this problem in accordance with the law,” he told AKP in the interview.

The cooperation between the law enforcement and security departments has been important components. In May 2018, our State Councillor and the Minister of Public Security, Zhao Kezhi, paid a successful visit to Cambodia and the cooperation in this area has been enhanced. “So, we are willing to continue our efforts and our cooperation with the Cambodia’s side to help Cambodia to develop its capacity in the area such as human resources, through various means, in the law enforcement departments”.

Belt and Road Initiative, highly aligned and complementary

“The Belt and Road Initiative is an important component of our comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Cambodia,” H.E Ambassador told AKP.

Cambodia – China relations in 2010 reached the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. “That is means a lot to us,” the ambassador reaffirmed.

“For China-Cambodia relations, besides the political guidance and good public support this relations also needs good economic base of foundation, so the belt and road initiative can consolidate this relations,” said H.E. Ambassador.

The two-trade value between China and Cambodia was US$5.79 billion in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 21.7 percent.

As of the end of 2017, total investment of Chinese companies in Cambodia reached US$12.6 billion, according to China’s embassy.

The Belt and Road Initiative is proposed by our President Xi Jinping in 2013 and this initiative has been actively supported and applauded by many countries worldwide and up to now there are more than 100 countries have clearly stated that they would like to be part of this initiative. Among these 100 countries, “Cambodia is one of the earliest to state its clear stance and active supports for this initiative,” he recalled.

The two countries have made many concrete developments, such as the inter-governmental cooperation paper that outlines for promoting the Belt and Road Initiative signed by the two governments.

They signed the cooperation paper focused on promotion of production capacity and investments between our two countries.

“We can see that there are many favourable conditions for our two countries to enhance the belt and road initiative cooperation… given our development strategies are highly aligned with each other,” said the Ambassador.

He said that the two countries’ conditions match each other from which they can enjoy mutual benefit.

He observed that, now China is transitioning from a period of fast growth to a phase of high quality development and are opening up; while Cambodia is at the phase of accelerating its urbanisation and industrialisation and making its effort to realise its 2015 to 2025 industrialisation plan policy. “So it is in need of great foreign investment, infrastructure and other related areas. Our development strategies are highly aligned with each other”.

Although Cambodia and China are different stages of economic development, but the Ambassador sees that, “they can be highly complementary to each other. Cambodia is in urgent needs in areas of agriculture, infrastructures, human resources and private sector investment as the rectangle strategy has been outlined its strategy and where China can make up for the urgent needs for the Cambodia’s side”.

“We can see that the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation is experiencing a high level of performance so this has created a favourable condition both in economics and political areas for Belt and Road initiative”.

“From China’s perspective we have always seen Cambodia as our key and our priority partner and direction in Belt and Road Initiative and we like to make Cambodia our great partner,” said the Ambassador.

Cambodia’s role in the context of CHINA- ASEAN framework

“We highly appreciated Cambodia’s efforts and role in safe guarding the regional peace, stability and development, and the bigger picture between China and ASEAN,” H.E Ambassador reaffirmed.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional intergovernmental organisation, included Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Brunei, and Cambodia.

“I would like to emphasise that China and Cambodia has been sharing broad consensus in global and regional affairs. It is our common view between Cambodia and China that our regional countries should focus our times and efforts on development, peace and stability that dedicated to the development for the whole region.”

“At the same time we should avoid the foreign force to disrupt and influence on regional peace, and development with some political issues,” said H.E Ambassador.

The Chinese side has always seen Cambodia as an important country within the ASEAN framework and we would like to extend our high appreciation for Cambodia’s role and contribution in promoting China-ASEAN relations.

“We took special notice that when Cambodia served as the rotating chair of ASEAN, the China-ASEAN relations had been developed smoothly and some problems that happened were resolved very properly,” H.E. Ambassador told the state news agency, AKP.

“China’s side has put great importance to China-ASEAN relations,” he said.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of strategic cooperation partnership between China and ASEAN. “There is good momentum of development of this relations and China’s side has always made China-ASEAN relations a priority direction in our diplomacy,” he said.

“At the same time, China values ASEAN role in global and regional affairs and we have been firmly supported the ASEAN’s centrality”.

China also looked to greater support for Cambodia to catch up countries of ASEAN. “We can see that Cambodia relatively lagged behind other ASEAN countries, it is also China’s efforts to help Cambodia’s development to narrow the development gap between countries of ASEAN that will make a greater contribution to the comprehensive development between ASEAN members.”

In recent years, China has been initiating the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism and Cambodia has been actively supported this mechanism and this is also our effort in the aim of accelerating the comprehensive development in Indo-China peninsular.

The country of honour for China-ASEAN Expo 2018

“Cambodia will be serving as the country of honour for China-ASEAN Expo,” said H.E Xiong Bo.

Every year in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the event will be held in mid-September 2018.

China-ASEAN Expo is held there and every year and Cambodia’s side has been actively participated and supported this event.

“We can see that Prime Minister Hun Sen has been attending the event ten times consecutively and this year especially Cambodia will be serving as the country of honour for China-ASEAN Expo. “We are very much anticipating that PM Hun Sen will also lead the delegation to this great event.”

China helps Cambodia to stand on its own

“We actively support Cambodia in trade, economics and investment since the areas will help Cambodia to develop on its own. Prime Minister Hun Sen has pointed it out many times that the assistance from China is not only conducive to help Cambodia’s economic development but also help its efforts in safeguarding its independence and developing the country on its own,” H.E. Ambassador Xiong Bo told AKP in the interview at the Embassy.

“We would like to appreciate very much the Cambodia’s diplomatic policy from the time of Late Father King Norodom Sihanouk has always standing for the safeguarding of national independence and non-aligned movement for which we respect and support this policy very much,” the ambassador recalled.

Beijing, in diplomatic area, has always been supporting developing countries as well to take on development paths that suit their own national conditions.

“At the same we object to the superpower to interfere in some countries’ internal affairs like Cambodia and other developing countries with the issue of human rights,” the Ambassador told AKP.

China stands up and speaks up for Cambodia

“In the international arena such as the United Nations Human Rights Council whenever Cambodia’s side faces unfair and injustice accusations from the western countries, the Chinese delegation will speak up for Cambodia without hesitations,” said the ambassador.

China, as a permanent member of United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has relatively large say in the international affairs and China is always for the common interest of the developing countries and Beijing has made contributions in safeguarding the common interest in the developing countries, multi-nationals and international arenas.

“We are enhancing our cooperation in national defence and military affairs between our two countries,” he reaffirmed.

“Lately, our State Councillor and Minister of National Defence H.E. Mr. Wei Fenghe visited Cambodia during the visit both sides exchanged in this field has been greatly enhanced”.

For the last two years, Cambodia and China had held consecutively the two times of the joint military drills, Golden Dragon. “Our two countries cooperation in military in the areas, such as anti-terrorism, safeguarding regional peace, and stability, has been ever consolidated”.

“I would to repeat our stance that we fully respect Cambodia’s independence. We fully support Cambodia’s efforts in safeguarding its national independence, national security and stability”.

After all these years, H.E. Ambassador described China-Cambodia relations are “traditional friendly neighbours with long history, comprehensive strategic partners that share high level of mutual trust, and dedicated to build a community of shared future.”

By Ek Tha