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China pledges bilateral cooperation and $270 million for development projects

In a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong on Sunday, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi pledged a $270 million grant and an additional three million Covid-19 vaccine doses, calling Cambodia one of Beijing’s closest allies in southeast Asia.

The funding is earmarked for projects such as road infrastructure, fibre-optic cables, hospitals and sewerage systems.

Namhong said that road construction was discussed in June to include National Roads 71C, 41, 33, 31 and 3.

Sihanoukville is slated for a new sewerage system and hospital as well as the construction of fibre-optic cables on the seabed connecting the city with Hong Kong to increase internet speed in Cambodia, he said.

He suggested that an appropriate time should be considered to organise trade and investment exhibitions between the two countries.

Namhong said that Cambodian authorities are cracking down on illegal online gambling so as not to affect the relationship between the two countries after the decision was made last year to abolish online casinos.

He proposed to create an intergovernmental party to include the ministries of Environment and Posts.

Wang said that China will send technicians to study National Road 3 which has suffered about 20 kilometres of damage.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn held a meeting on Sunday with Wang to discuss bilateral cooperation as well as regional and international issues of common interest and concerns.

The ministry said that Prime Minister Hun Sen will witness the signing of the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and two other important documents, namely the Exchange of Note for the Feasibility Study on the Project of Improvement of Preah Sihanouk Provincial Referral Hospital and the Exchange of Note for the Feasibility Study on the Project of the Municipal Sewerage System Development Project in Preah Sihanouk province.

“The official visit of Wang Yi to Cambodia will further strengthen the long-lasting relations of traditional friendship, solidarity, fraternity and fruitful cooperation between Cambodia and China in light of the unprecedented global challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the ministry said.

Chheang Vannarith, president of  Asian Vision Institute,  told Khmer Times yesterday that, Cambodia’s foreign policy has been characterised by pragmatism. “Openness, inclusiveness and diversification are the core elements of foreign policy philosophy,” he said.

“The enhanced Cambodia-China strategic partnership, or ironclad friendship, is not at the expense of Cambodia’s good relations with other countries,” said Vannarith.

“The people factor is the foundation of every relationship. Any country is welcome to invest efforts to win the hearts and minds of Cambodian people. The country that can win the hearts and minds of the people will enjoy long-term relationships,” he said.

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