Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen paid an official visit to China from 9-11 February. Whilst exchanges of visits by the two countries’ leaders are by no means unusual, this one carried special and symbolic importance on at least three counts:
- 2023 sees the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This relationship was carefully and sincerely nurtured by the elder generation of leaders from the two countries, specifically Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and Samdech Norodom Sihanouk. This year has accordingly been designated as the ‘China-Cambodia Friendship Year’.
- This was Hun Sen’s first visit to China in three years and he was the first foreign leader to visit after the Chinese people celebrated the Lunar New Year holiday.
- His previous visit occurred at the height of the initial outbreak of Covid-19. Not only was he the first foreign leader to visit China at that time, he even suggested that he visit Wuhan, which was then bearing the full brunt of the outbreak. Hun Sen said that with both that visit and his current one he wanted to send a clear message that the Cambodian people will always stand firmly with the Chinese people. At the most difficult moment of the Chinese people’s battle against the virus, they also received generous support from the Cambodian King and Queen Mother.
A joint statement released at the conclusion of the visit referred to the two countries’ “impregnable ironclad friendship”. “In the face of momentous changes and challenges in the world, the strategic significance of China-Cambodia relations gains further prominence. No matter how the international situation changes, the two sides will unswervingly deepen their close ironclad friendship and develop win-win practical cooperation for mutual benefit.”
The statement reflected the two countries’ common understanding with regard to both their vital national interests as well as the general contours of contemporary international relations. It also surveyed the gamut of China’s extensive range of assistance to Cambodia, such as in infrastructure, including Cambodia’s first Expressway, rail (featuring four-way cooperation also with Laos and Thailand); rural development, clean and green energy, preservation of cultural heritage, and support for Cambodia’s hosting of the 2023 Southeast Asian Games.
It also noted that: “Both sides recognized the common values for all humanity of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom, and stood ready to safeguard the international system with the UN as its core, the international order based on international law, and the basic norms governing international relations embodied in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, while opposing all forms of hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism, and exclusive bloc politics which targets specific countries. The two countries are committed to building a new type of international relations and promoting global partnerships of equality, openness and cooperation towards a community with a shared future for humanity.”
The following articles were originally carried by the Xinhua News Agency.
Xi meets Cambodian PM Hun Sen
Xinhua, 10 February 2023
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Hun Sen on Friday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.
Xi pointed out that three years ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen visited China as a token of support and stood firmly with the Chinese people in their fight against COVID-19.
This year marks the first year for China to fully implement the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and also the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia, Xi noted.
“It gives me great pleasure to work with you to realize our three-year appointment and open a new era of building a China-Cambodia community with a shared future at the start of spring,” Xi said.
Xi stressed that China firmly supports the Cambodian people in independently choosing a development path that suits their national conditions and supports Cambodia in safeguarding national sovereignty and security, steadily advancing its major domestic political agenda and economic and social development, and opposes interference by external forces in Cambodia’s internal affairs.
Taking Cambodia as a priority in China’s neighborhood diplomacy, China has been planning and advancing China-Cambodia cooperation in various fields from a comprehensive and strategic perspective, Xi said.
China is ready to share opportunities, seek cooperation, and promote development with Cambodia in the process of advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization and jointly build a high-quality, high-level, and high-standard China-Cambodia community with a shared future in the new era, to bring more benefits to the two peoples and contribute more positive energy to regional peace, stability, and development, Xi said.
The Chinese president noted that the two sides could build a cooperation framework in politics, production capacity, agriculture, energy, security, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. On political cooperation, he said the two sides need to deepen strategic communication, strengthen experience-sharing on state governance, and deepen exchanges through various channels.
In terms of production capacity cooperation, the two countries should focus on building industrial development corridors, Xi said, adding that China will encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest in Cambodia, help construct the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone in Cambodia, and support Cambodia in building transportation infrastructure.
Xi said efforts should be made to carry out agricultural cooperation near lakes, ensure green development and increase investment in hydropower and photovoltaic power generation projects in Cambodia.
On security cooperation, Xi said China will carry out joint operations to crack down on cross-border crimes on a regular basis and continue to provide clearing mines assistance to Cambodia.
On people-to-people and cultural exchanges, China will prioritize resuming and increasing direct flights with Cambodia, encourage tourism cooperation, carry out protection and restoration of cultural heritage, and support Cambodia in developing education and health, he said.
“The two sides should take the China-Cambodia Friendship Year as an opportunity to expand sub-national cooperation, expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges, strengthen youth exchanges, and carry forward the China-Cambodia friendship,” Xi said.
Hun Sen said it was a great pleasure for him to be the first foreign leader received by China after the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Hun Sen said that he wanted to send a clear message through his visit three years ago and the current visit that the Cambodian people will always stand firmly with the Chinese people.
The Cambodian side admires China’s development achievements and believes that under the leadership of President Xi, China will achieve the goal of building itself into a great modern socialist country in all respects as scheduled, he said.
He thanked China for firmly supporting the Cambodian people in choosing a development path suited to its own national conditions and providing timely and valuable support and assistance when Cambodia faced difficulties such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cambodia firmly upholds the one-China policy, firmly supports China in safeguarding its national sovereignty, security, and development interests, firmly supports China’s policy of “one country, two systems,” and firmly opposes any external interference in China’s internal affairs on issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet, Hun Sen said.
He said that he fully agreed with China’s proposal of the cooperation framework in six major areas. He added that Cambodia hopes to take the opportunity of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with China to consolidate the iron-clad friendship between the two countries, deepen experience sharing in party and state governance and practical cooperation in various fields, push for more achievements of the Cambodia-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and jointly build a Cambodia-China community with a shared future.
Hun Sen said Cambodia is willing to continue actively promoting the development of ASEAN-China relations. He said that the Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative put forward by China are of great significance to safeguarding world peace and promoting common development. Cambodia actively supports and participates in these initiatives.
The two sides also exchanged views on issues of common concern.
Xi stressed that development is not the privilege of a few countries.
He said the act of power hegemony to engage in ideological confrontation, politicize and weaponize economic, trade, scientific and technological exchanges, push for “decoupling and breaking the chain,” contain and suppress other countries’ development, and ask regional nations to take sides, will not be supported by the people.
China stands on the right side of history and will firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests as well as international fairness and justice, Xi stressed.
After the meeting, Xi held a banquet for Hun Sen.
Wang Yi and He Lifeng were present at the meeting.
Chinese premier holds talks with Cambodian PM
Xinhua, 11 February 2023
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Hun Sen on Friday in Beijing.
Li extended a welcome to Hun Sen on his visit after the Chinese Lunar New Year. He said that since China and Cambodia established diplomatic relations 65 years ago, the two countries have deepened their relations on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment.
China attaches great importance to relations with Cambodia, Li said, adding that China supports Cambodia in choosing a development path suited to its national conditions, and that China is willing to provide assistance to the best of its capability to achieve win-win results.
Li called on the two countries to enhance strategic communication, continue to support each other firmly on issues concerning core interests and major concerns, and deepen practical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges to further benefit the two peoples.
Noting the complementary strengths of China-Cambodia cooperation, Li called on the two sides to give full play to the benefits of the China-Cambodia free trade agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to enhance industrial chain cooperation and upgrade cooperation in trade and investment.
China stands ready to promote the direct import of Cambodian agricultural products, Li said, urging the two countries to give full play to bilateral cooperation mechanisms in capacity and investment to enhance infrastructure construction cooperation.
While pursuing an energy transformation and upgrading itself, China is willing to make contributions to Cambodia’s green economy, energy conservation and emissions reduction, he added.
Noting that China has prioritized resuming and increasing direct flights with Cambodia, Li voiced the hope that the two countries will enhance law enforcement and security cooperation, making the China-Cambodia Friendship Year a success.
Li said that China and ASEAN are comprehensive strategic partners with a shared future, and China has always regarded ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy. China firmly supports ASEAN’s unity and strength, its centrality in regional cooperation, and its greater role in international and regional affairs.
Li said that China appreciates the positive and constructive role Cambodia played in promoting China-ASEAN relations when it held the rotating ASEAN presidency last year, and stands ready to work with ASEAN member states to promote the development of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership and safeguard regional stability and world peace.
Noting that the friendship between Cambodia and China is unbreakable, Hun Sen said that the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries is constantly deepening. The Cambodian side adheres firmly to the one-China policy and stands ready to take the opportunities presented by the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with China to advance high-quality cooperation in fields such as politics, production capacity, agriculture, energy, finance, law enforcement security, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and jointly build a Cambodia-China community with a shared future.
Hun Sen welcomed Chinese tourists to visit Cambodia. He thanked China for its support of Cambodia’s chairing of ASEAN, and expressed a readiness to work with China to deepen cooperation between ASEAN and China, promote regional connectivity, and safeguard regional peace and development.
After the talks, Li and Hun Sen announced the launch of the China-Cambodia Friendship Year, and witnessed the signing of a series of cooperation documents.
Joint Statement between the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Cambodia on Building a China-Cambodia Community with a Shared Future in the New Era
Xinhua, 11 February 2023
At the invitation of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, paid an official visit to the People’s Republic of China from 9 to 11 February 2023.
During the visit, President Xi Jinping met with Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen, having in-depth exchanges on building a China-Cambodia Community with a Shared Future in the New Era and international and regional issues of shared interest, charting the course for future China-Cambodia relations. Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen also held talks with Premier Li Keqiang and met with Chairman Li Zhanshu of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Both sides spoke highly of China-Cambodia impregnable ironclad friendship, which has been carefully nurtured by the elder generations leaders of both countries and has been constantly growing from strength to strength in the last 65 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, showcasing the new type of international relations. In the face of momentous changes and challenges in the world, the strategic significance of China-Cambodia relations gains further prominence. No matter how the international situation changes, the two sides will unswervingly deepen their close ironclad friendship and develop win-win practical cooperation for the mutual benefits, with a view to promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. The two sides announced the launch of the “China-Cambodia Friendship Year ”events to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, to usher in a new era of building a high-quality, high-level and high-standard China- Cambodia Community with a Shared Future, to carry forward the most treasured ironclad friendship through coming generations.
1. The Cambodian side renewed its warm congratulations on the full success of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the election of H.E. Xi Jinping as General Secretary of the 20th CPC Central Committee, spoke highly of China’s achievements in the decade of the new era and the Chinese modernization that offers an alternative path to modernization, contributing greater wisdom, solution and strength to address the common issues for mankind. The Cambodian side expressed firm belief that under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China will achieve its second centenary goal of building a great modern socialist country in all respects towards great national rejuvenation through Chinese modernization, making greater contributions to the noble cause of peace and development of humanity.
2. The Chinese side spoke highly of Cambodia’s remarkable achievements in national stability, prosperity and rising international influence. China believes that with the blessing of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, and under the leadership of the Royal Government of Cambodia headed by Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia will keep achieving new progress in national development and people’s well-being and playing a greater role in maintaining peace and prosperity in the region and the world.
3. Both sides emphasized that mutual support on the issues of each other’s core interests is the essence of a China-Cambodia Community with a Shared Future. The Chinese side reaffirmed resolute support to Cambodian people’s choice of development path that suits Cambodia’s national conditions, to Cambodia’s endeavors to safeguard her independence, sovereignty, security, and development interests, and to steady advancement of important Cambodian national political agenda while expressing firm opposition to any foreign interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs .
The Cambodian side reaffirmed her resolute adherence to the One-China Policy. The Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole lawful government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’ s territory as well as China’ s internal affair, which brooks no interference from any external forces. Cambodia opposes any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs or to block and contain China under the subterfuge of Taiwan, or any form of separatist activities seeking “Taiwan independence”, and resolutely supports China’s every effort to achieve national reunification. Cambodia will not develop any form of official relations with Taiwan .
Both sides agreed that Xinjiang – related issues are not about human rights, but about countering violent terrorism, extremism and separatism. The Cambodian side reiterated her resolute opposition to interfering in China’ s internal affairs by manipulating Xinjiang- related issues.
Both sides concurred that while exploring human rights improvement, it is important to proceed from people’ s needs and real national conditions. Both sides expressed firm opposition to politicizing and instrumentalizing human rights issues, double standards, abusing democratic values to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries or provoking division and confrontation on the pretext of safeguarding democracy and human rights, or imposition of one country’s will on others.
4. Both sides agreed to enhance high-level engagements through various formats such as bilateral visits, video calls, messages and letters, to advance strategic communication and political trust through in-depth exchanges on major bilateral, international, and regional issues in a timely manner, to firmly steer China-Cambodia relations in the right direction.
5. Both sides agreed to develop a diamond cooperation framework with six priority areas including political cooperation, production capacity , agriculture , energy , security and people-to- people exchanges:
Both sides agreed to put into full play the role of China-Cambodia Intergovernmental Coordination Committee, to negotiate and sign a new Action Plan of Building a China-Cambodia Community with a Shared Future at an early date, to coordinate efforts on practical cooperation in various fields. Both sides agreed to strengthen political party cooperation and exchanges in various areas and at all levels, to enhance exchanges on governance and personal training; promote cooperation between counterpart departments on supervision, organization, and publicity, and advance friendly youth exchanges. Deepen exchanges between China’s National People’s Congress, National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and National Assembly and Senate of Cambodia. Implement Agreement on Advancing Cooperation in Building a China – Cambodia Community with a Shared Future in the New Era between the two Foreign Ministries to safeguard shared interests.
Both sides agreed to deepen strategic synergy and cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and Rectangular Strategies , ensuring safety of the projects and personnel, and according a greater role to China-Cambodia Working Mechanism for Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation. Explore development of an “Industrial and Technological Corridor” towards the vision of developing Preah Sihanouk Province as a model of the multipurpose Special Economic Zone ( SEZ ). Build on the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone ( SSEZ ) as the flagship project and Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville Expressway to attract more competent Chinese enterprises to increase investment in Cambodia, exploring cooperation possibilities in transportation facilities, power grids, fiber optics networks , warehousing and logistics, to optimize the mix of China – Cambodia production capacity cooperation.
China supports Cambodia in the preliminary work of railway planning, design, and feasibility studies to promote railway construction and projects benefiting people’s livelihood along the railway. Both sides look forward to early railway connection between Cambodia and China – Lao – Thailand Railway.
Both sides agreed to implement the MoU on China-Cambodia Development Cooperation Planning(2023-2025). Promote the construction of infrastructure including roads, bridges, reservoirs, sewage treatment and submarine fiber optic cables. Carry out rural roads, water supply, schools, and medical projects in Cambodia to improve people’s livelihood. The Cambodian side expressed appreciation for China’s financial support of various forms for the implementation of relevant economic and technical and human resources development projects in Cambodia .
Both sides agreed to explore the establishment of a “Fish and Rice Corridor” centred on north-western Cambodia and the Tonle Sap Lake area, to develop modern ecological agriculture near the lake. Accelerate the planning of Cambodia’s modern agricultural development, explore cooperation in digital agriculture; and support upgrading of Cambodia ‘ s aquaculture , tropical plantation and other competitive sectors. Enhance customs inspection and quarantine cooperation and actively promote the imports of high-quality Cambodian agricultural products; continue to advance “Single Window” interconnection to promote bilateral trade . Make full use of RCEP and China-Cambodia Free Trade Agreement while advancing China-ASEAN Free Trade Area 3.0 upgrade negotiations, and platforms including China International Import Expo, China Import and Export Fair , and China-ASEAN Expo as well as bilateral digital economy cooperation mechanisms, to enhance the competitiveness and popularity of Cambodian products in China and advance bilateral trade to new heights . Encourage localities in both countries to play their respective advantages in full to enhance practical cooperation in agriculture, economic and trade aspects .
Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in hydropower, photovoltaics, and other clean energy sources, to explore green, stable and reliable energy cooperation solutions. Promote the establishment of the China-Cambodia Low-carbon Demonstration Zone Project of South-South Cooperation on Climate Change in Preah Sihanouk Province. Ecology and environment cooperation is to be furthered with highlights on policy dialogue, joint research, and capacity building, as well as training for ecological and environmental protection management in Cambodia, to enhance the exchange of concepts , strategies , regulations , and standards .
Both sides agreed to enhance engagements between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) at all levels, tapping into the potential of the cooperation mechanism through the two militaries by enhancing counterpart forces exchanges and joint exercises and training, with enhanced practical cooperation in such areas as capacity building, military training, logistics and equipment, as well as closer coordination and cooperation in multilateral security affairs.
Both sides agreed to continue cooperation in the exchange and sharing of information between law enforcement officials, with highlights on countering transnational crime, counter-terrorism, preventing “color revolution”, combating drug-related crimes, telecom fraud , illegal cross-border gambling , human trafficking , and law enforcement’s capacity building. Promote the strengthening of the China-Cambodia Law Enforcement Cooperation and Coordination Office.
The Cambodian side spoke highly of China’s efforts to optimize and adjust its COVID -19 prevention and control policy in light of the evolving situation, which creates better conditions for safe, healthy and orderly people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries, bringing more benefits to global economy. China declared Cambodia among the first countries to resume outbound group travel with, and will give priority to restoring and increasing direct passenger flights. The Cambodian side reiterated a warm welcome to Chinese tourists and the commitment to provide quality service and security. Both sides agreed to encourage cooperation between cultural and tourism enterprises of the two countries, to jointly design tourism routes, develop cultural and tourism products, and enhance cooperation in cultural and tourism personnel training.
Both sides agreed to implement Agreement on Scientific, Technological and Innovative Cooperation between the two governments on the basis of equality, equity, and mutual benefit, including holding the 1st Meeting of China-Cambodia Joint Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation, and promoting cooperation in technology transfer and people-to-people exchanges in science and technology.
Both sides agreed to launch education policy dialogues, supporting Cambodian youth to study in China and Cambodia to develop Chinese language teaching, promoting the setting up of new Confucius Institutes in Cambodia, stepping up vocational education cooperation and digital transformation of education.
Both sides agreed to promote China-aid Project of Royal Palace Restoration in Angkor and protection and restoration of Preah Vihear Temple and other cultural heritages, and are committed to a joint action to preserve Asian cultural heritage, exploring the establishment of China-Cambodia joint working group on cultural heritages, to promote across-the-spectrum cooperation. Both sides agreed to continue working on the platform of the Asian Cultural Council to strengthen the cooperation in promoting peace, prosperity and solidarity through mutual understanding, respect, trust and interest and to connect the civilizations of Asia.
China supports Cambodia to hold 2023 Southeast Asian Games and will continue to assist Cambodia in training athletes . Cambodia will send delegations to attend the Chengdu Summer Universiade and the Hangzhou Asian Games .
Both sides agreed to deepen exchanges and cooperation in traditional medicine and other health fields, promoting the establishment of the China-Cambodia Traditional Chinese Medicine Cooperation Center. The two sides actively support various formats of people-to-people exchanges, and promote civil society organizations to carry out civilization mutual learning and livelihood projects cooperation, with a view to enhancing two-way people-to- people exchanges.
6. Both sides recognized the common values for all humanity of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom, and stood ready to safeguard the international system with the UN as its core, the international order based on international law, and the basic norms governing international relations embodied in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, while opposing all forms of hegemonism , power politics , unilateralism , exclusive bloc politics which targets specific countries. The two countries are committed to building a new type of international relations and promoting global partnerships of equality, openness and cooperation towards a community with a shared future for mankind.
Both sides agreed on the adherence to true multilateralism, firmly supporting the open, transparent, inclusive, non- discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core , and standing ready to jointly promote the WTO to play a greater role in global economic governance . China welcomes Cambodia’s joining of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative ( GDI ). Cambodia stands ready to enhance cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels on its implementation, to jointly implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. Cambodia supports China’s proposal of the Global Security Initiative ( GSI ), and stands ready to work with China on global security governance towards common , comprehensive , cooperative and sustainable security .
The Chinese side congratulated on the successful Cambodia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN 2022 under the theme “ASEAN A . C . T .: Addressing Challenges Together”, and highly valued the positive role of Cambodia in achieving enduring peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region and beyond. Both sides reiterated their commitment of open regionalism towards building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful, and amicable home in the region and deepening China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership , and agreed to enhance Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and promote the building of an even closer community with a shared future for Lancang-Mekong countries .
7. Both sides believed that with joint efforts of ASEAN countries and China, the situation in the South China Sea has maintained overall stability. The two countries call on relevant parties to carry forward the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) fully and effectively, to enhance maritime cooperation, and reach an early conclusion on a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) on the basis of mutual consensus, to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. Any attempt to use the South China Sea issue to undermine regional peace, stability and trust are counterproductive and should be avoided.
8. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the visit. Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen extended sincere appreciation for the warm and friendly hospitality extended by Chinese leaders and people while inviting President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders to visit Cambodia. During the visit , the two sides held the China-Cambodia Economic Forum on Trade, Investment and Tourism, and signed cooperation documents in the fields of foreign affairs, economic and trade cooperation, development cooperation, agricultural exports to China, infrastructure, education, media and cultural heritage protection, etc .