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Hun Sen defends Cambodian canal project, rejects outside slander

By YANG HAN in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2024-04-09 16:13
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Hun Sen. [Photo/Agencies]

People should not slander Cambodia in order to oppose China in accordance with their geopolitical strategy, said Cambodian Senate President Hun Sen on April 9, rebuking allegations that the Techo Funan Canal project will facilitate the Chinese navy near the Vietnamese border.

"The Techo Funan Canal purely serves socio-economic benefit as it provides more waterways to the southwestern Cambodian additional to the existing transport routes along the Mekong River," Hun Sen said through a post on his social media account.

The vital infrastructure, which facilitates agricultural activities by providing water for crop cultivation, is good for water management during the rainy season, and increases freshwater fish production, among other benefits, said Hun Sen.

The 180-kilometer Techo Funan Canal project, which links the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh to the coastal province of Kep, will be the first capital-coastal waterway in Cambodia.

By connecting waterways between rivers and the sea of Cambodia, it is set to help boost the Southeast Asian country's infrastructure and connectivity. Construction is slated to commence by the end of 2024, according to the Khmer Times.

In a meeting with Zhao Leji, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, on March 28, Hun Sen, who is also president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said he hopes China can support the canal project.

Hun Sen said in his social media post that Cambodia and Vietnam are neighbors with good friendship and cooperation in every field, while China and Vietnam also have good relations and are strategic partners in all aspects.

Noting the project follows the 1995 Mekong Agreement signed by Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, Hun Sen said the canal will have no impact on the flow of the Mekong River as it does not connect directly to the Mekong River but rather to the Bassac River that starts from Phnom Penh and flows south to the Kandal province that borders Vietnam.

"We also think of our national interests just as you do," said Hun Sen. "Fortunately, you were born in a rich country and we were born in a poor country. That's why you look down on us."

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