China pledged US$600 million (euro492 million) in aid to Cambodia on
Saturday, the last day of Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to the impoverished
Southeast Asian country, a government official said.
Wen and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also held talks and presided over
the signing of 11 bilateral agreements, said Sri Thamrong, an adviser to Hun
"If we put the figure of loans and grants together we have received from
China today about US$600 million," Sri Thamrong told reporters.
He said about US$200 million (euro164 million) is a low-interest loan for
building two bridges.
Wen and Hun Sen held talks behind closed doors, and the signing of the
agreements was off-limits to foreign media. Neither spoke to reporters after
They also took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a Chinese-funded office
complex for Hun Sen and his deputies.
The project is estimated to cost about 400 million yuan (US$49 million;
euro40 million) and is expected to be completed in 2008.
The event and the new aid pledges were seen as a symbol of China's deepening
influence in Cambodia.
China has maintained a high profile in Cambodia despite its previous strong
backing of the Khmer Rouge regime that caused the deaths of some 1.7 million
people in the late 1970s.
Hun Sen has described China as Cambodia's "most trustworthy friend."
In return, Beijing has rewarded his government with millions of dollars in
aid over the last decade, agreed to write off past debts and granted it
tariff-free status for some 400 items.
Investments by Chinese companies in Cambodia were worth some US$240 million
(euro197 million) last year, more than from any other nation. Most Chinese
investments were in the garment industry, Cambodia's main foreign exchange
Cambodia last year awarded a US$280 million (euro230 million) contract to the
Chinese state-run company Sinohydro Corp. to build a hydropower plant in the
Wen was to hold talks with King Norodom Sihamoni before ending his visit