Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Hun Sen, who is also the old friend and good friend of the Chinese people, paid a three-day official visit to China after the Chinese New Year.
From February 9 to 11, apart from meeting with Chinese leaders, Hun Sen attended the launching ceremony of the China-Cambodia Friendship Year and the opening ceremony of the China-Cambodia business, investment and tourism forum and witnessed the signing of a series of cooperation documents, covering fields including diplomacy, economy and trade, development cooperation, agricultural products, infrastructure and media.
On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, China and Cambodia are ready to further bilateral cooperation through “one position, six-way cooperation and two corridors,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong told China Media Group (CMG) on Friday.
China and Cambodia on Saturday issued a joint statement on building a China-Cambodia community with a shared future in the new era, a key consensus the two sides reached during Hun Sun’s visit.
The statement read “no matter how the international landscape may evolve, China and Cambodia will unswervingly deepen their iron-clad friendship, carry out mutually beneficial and win-win practical cooperation and promote the building of a community with a shared future.”
This echoed the Chinese president’s call during his meeting with Hun Sen, as Xi Jinping stressed China is ready to share opportunities, seek cooperation, and promote development with Cambodia and urged efforts to building a high-quality, high-level, and high-standard China-Cambodia community with a shared future in the new era for bringing more benefits to the two peoples and contributing more positive energy to regional peace, stability and development.
For his part, Hun Sen said he wants 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. He vowed to push for more achievements of the Cambodia-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and jointly build a Cambodia-China community with a shared future.
During Hun Sun’s visit, the two sides also reached a consensus on the China-Cambodia “Diamond Hexagon” cooperation framework.
As the Chinese president noted, the two sides could build a cooperation framework in politics, production capacity, agriculture, energy, security, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Hun Sen fully agreed with China’s proposal of the cooperation framework.
The cooperation framework is written into the joint statement with detailed cooperation plans for the six major areas.
Thus, the two sides have already taken practical actions in some areas. The China-Cambodia business, investment and tourism forum, which Hun Sun attended, attracted some 300 government and business representatives from the two countries.
The forum aims to provide the latest information on the two sides’ policies on trade, investment and tourism, and serve as a platform to discuss, exchange experiences and connect with potential business partners to foster cooperation.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, China has continued to be Cambodia’s largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years with bilateral trade volume hitting a record high again in 2022, expanding 17.5 percent year on year to $16.02 billion.
Cambodia has also pinned high hopes for its tourism recovery after Chinese tourists gradually returned to the Southeast Asian nation. China was the largest source of foreign tourists to Cambodia in the pre-pandemic era.
According to Cambodia’s Tourism Minister Thong Khon, his country received 25,000 Chinese tourists in January and will try to attract between 800,000 and one million Chinese tourists in 2023.
As highlighted in the joint statement, the two countries also agreed to focus on the building of two corridors: the industrial development corridor centered on Sihanoukville Province and the fish-rice corridor in the Tonle Sap Lake area.
To build an industrial development corridor, China will encourage more Chinese firms to invest in Cambodia and facilitate the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), Xi told Hun Sen.
The 11-square-km SSEZ currently houses approximately 170 factories across the world with a total investment of more than $1.3 billion, creating around 30,000 jobs.
As Xi urged efforts to carry out agricultural cooperation near lakes, the two countries agreed to jointly build the fish-rice corridor with a multi-dimensional, composite and efficient modern agricultural system.
According to a report released by the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, China is one of the key importers of Cambodia’s agricultural produce in 2022. About 689,702 tonnes of Cambodian agricultural products had been shipped to China during the January-November period in 2022.