Xiplomacy: Rosy prospects ahead for China-Cambodia community with shared future

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-02-12 07:53
Share - WeChat
This photo taken on March 28, 2022 shows packages of China-donated Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at the Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. [Photo by Ly Lay/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- Rice, bananas, basa fish -- quality Cambodian products as such have appeared more frequently on the Chinese customers' shopping lists, a phenomenon attesting the growing trade between the two countries in recent years.

Official figures showed that facilitated by the China-Cambodia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), both of which came into effect in January last year, two-way trade between the two sides hit a record high again in 2022, expanding 17.5 percent year on year to 16.02 billion U.S. dollars.

The flourishing trade relationship, as part of the China-Cambodia traditional friendship forged and carefully nurtured by the elder generations of Chinese and Cambodian leaders, is a treasure shared by the two peoples.

Today, under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, China-Cambodia relations have been further energized and the building of the China-Cambodia community with a shared future has reaped bumper harvests, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples and contributing to peace and prosperity in the region and beyond.

Chinese tourists arrive at the Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb 7, 2023.[Photo by Phearum/Xinhua]


"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," Chinese President Xi Jinping said when meeting with Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Hun Sen on Friday in Beijing.

Three years ago, Hun Sen visited China as a token of support and stood firmly with the Chinese people in their fight against COVID-19. The realization of the three-year appointment has witnessed the iron-clad friendship between the two countries.

Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said the close and special relationship between Cambodia and China is characterized by deep historical feelings.

"Long-term political mutual trust and equal treatment make Cambodia and China iron-clad friends," he said.

China-Cambodia relations have stood the test of times over the past 65 years. Xi has maintained frequent interactions with Cambodian leaders to draw the blueprint for closer relationship of the two countries.

In April 2019, China and Cambodia took the lead in signing an action plan for building a community with a shared future. Under the guidance of the head-of-state diplomacy, China-Cambodia relations have been elevated to new levels, and the building of a community with a shared future has yielded fruitful results.

China has always given full support and assistance to Cambodia's development, helping the country build its first four-lane expressway, first cement factory, first thermal power station, and its largest hydropower station. During China's toughest anti-pandemic days, King Sihamoni and Queen Mother Monineath offered generous support for China.

Facing major global changes and the pandemic, both unseen in a century, China and Cambodia have firmly promoted the building of a community with a shared future, setting an example of forging a new type of international relations, Xi said in a phone conversation with Hun Sen last year.

This photo taken on Nov 7, 2022 shows vehicles lining up at a toll station on the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville (PPSHV) Expressway in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. [Xinhua/Wu Changwei]


Every day, Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway witnesses hundreds of vehicles speeding over. The first-ever expressway in Cambodia is one of the many landmark achievements the two countries made under the framework of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

The 187-km Chinese-invested freeway connecting Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh to the international deep-water seaport in Sihanoukville attracted more than 1 million vehicles in the first three months since it was open to the public in October last year.

Sareth Sreypich, a 29-year-old supervisor at the toll stations, said the project has played an important role in enhancing the efficiency of travels and logistics system in the Southeast Asian nation.

"Previously, when we traveled on National Road 4, it took up to five hours, but now, traveling on the expressway, it takes two hours only," she said, bubbling with excitement.

Meanwhile, the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone jointly developed by China and Cambodia has attracted more than 170 companies from around the world, creating nearly 30,000 job opportunities for local people.

Bilateral cooperation on economy and trade has also borne fruit. China has been Cambodia's largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years, and Chinese enterprises had invested more than 10 billion dollars in Cambodia by the end of 2022. And as Penn Sovicheat, undersecretary of state and spokesman for Cambodia's Ministry of Commerce, said, the coming out of the RCEP and the CCFTA has further deepened such practical cooperation.

Mak Chamroeun, chairman of e-commerce platform AgriBee (Cambodia), said the RCEP and the CCFTA would give a big boost to the bilateral trade and investment ties, expressing confidence that more Cambodian products, especially agricultural ones, would be exported to China.

"Both the RCEP and the CCFTA will provide tremendous opportunities for Cambodian farmers, producers, processors, traders and exporters," he said, adding that he believed more Chinese investors will flow into Cambodia's technology, digital economy and agricultural processing sectors.

Air China flight CA745, carrying some 125 Chinese tourists, arrives at the Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb. 7, 2023.[Photo by Phearum/Xinhua]


On Tuesday, Air China flight CA745, carrying some 125 Chinese tourists, arrived at the Phnom Penh International Airport from Beijing and received a water cannon salute and warm welcome from Cambodia's Tourism Minister Thong Khon.

Noting that the Southeast Asian nation is projected to attract at least one million Chinese tourists in 2023, up from 110,000 in 2022, the Cambodian minister said, "China is the most important outbound tourism market for the world, so China's resumption of outbound tourism is very beneficial not only to Cambodia, but also to the whole world."

The importance Cambodia sees in China goes beyond the tourism sector. For years, the two countries have jointly carried out the conservation-restoration of cultural heritage, with the famed Angkor Archaeological Park as a fine example.

Covering an area of 401 square km, the Angkor site consists scores of key temples revealing a historical picture of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to the 15th century, some of which, including the Chau Say Tevoda temple, the Ta Keo temple and the Phimeanakas temple, China has helped restored since 1997.

"The contribution of the Chinese team to the conservation and restoration of Angkor park is very historical. It's very substantial," said Long Kosal, deputy director-general of the Apsara National Authority, a government agency responsible for managing, safeguarding and preserving the site.

What China has done for Cambodia is not the only thing Cambodians deem helpful. In the eyes of Chea Munyrith, president of the Cambodian Chinese Evolution Researcher Association, China's governance philosophy and experience have also meant a lot to Cambodia's development.

Learning from China's practices in poverty alleviation and taking into consideration Cambodia's actual situation, the Southeast Asian nation carried out a poverty alleviation project in January 2021, which has changed the life of millions of Cambodians.

"Cambodia hopes to avail of China's newly allocated resources for global development cooperation, at a time when it needs all the help it can get to tackle these pressing global issues, like COVID-19 response and vaccines, poverty alleviation, food security, climate change and green development," said Sok Siphana, the Cambodian government's senior advisor. 

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349