The leaders of Cambodia and China have pledged to unswervingly develop their ever-lasting friendship and deepen cooperation for mutual benefits, no matter how the international situation may change, according to a September 16 joint statement.

The statement summarised the results of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s first official visit to China from September 14-17. During the trip, he met with top Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang and Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Manet also attended the 20th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the capital city of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, scheduled to run from September 16 to 20.

“Both sides emphasise that no matter how the international situation changes, they will unswervingly develop their ever-lasting friendship and deepen cooperation for mutual benefit, with a view to promoting the building of a high-quality, high-level and high-standard Cambodia-China Community of Common Destiny in the new era,” the statement said.

“The two sides spoke highly of the achievements of ‘Cambodia-China Friendship Year’ events that celebrated 65 years of diplomatic relations, and stand willing to carry forward their traditional friendship through the coming generations,” it continued.

They also reaffirmed their respect and supported the choices of every all nations, in terms of choosing a development path that suits their respective national conditions.

Both countries complemented each other on their mutual support and their achievements, with the Chinese leaders stressing their “resolute support” for Cambodia’s endeavours to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. The Chinese leaders firmly stated that they were opposed to foreign interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs, according to the document.

“The Cambodian side reaffirmed its resolute adherence to the One-China Policy, noting that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole lawful government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and China’s internal affair, brooking no foreign interference,” it added.

Cambodia opposes any form of separatist activities seeking “Taiwanese independence” and supported China’s efforts to achieve national reunification, and will not develop any form of official relations with Taiwan.

During the visit, both sides also signed the “Action Plan on Building a Cambodia-China Community of Common Destiny in the New Era 2024-28”.

They also agreed to deepen strategic synergy between Cambodia’s Pentagonal Strategy and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with a focus on developing a diamond cooperation framework in six priority areas, including developing Preah Sihanouk province as a model of the multipurpose Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and expediting the progress of the “Fish and Rice Corridor”.

Other priority areas included trade and investment cooperation, collaboration in hydropower, photovoltaics, and other clean energy sources, the maintenance of high-level military engagements, and continued practical police cooperation and capacity building.

“The Chinese affirm their continued support for economic development and the improvement of people’s livelihoods in Cambodia through further implementation of the Global Development Initiative [GDI] and projects such as rural roads, bridges, water supplies, schools and hospitals. The Cambodian side expressed its appreciation for China’s staunch support,” said the statement.

China will also continue to offer scholarships for Cambodian students, and enhance exchanges and cooperation in the health sector, including through traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Chinese medical science, as well as the establishment of the Cambodia-China Traditional Chinese Medicine Cooperation Centre.

On global issues, they pledged to safeguard the international system with the UN as its core, rule-based international order and basic norms governing international relations embodied in the UN Charter.

“Both sides oppose all forms of hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism in any manifestation, and exclusive blocs which target specific countries. The two nations are committed to strengthening cooperation on building a new type of international relations and building a better community with a shared future for mankind,” explained the statement.

During the visit, Cambodia and China signed a total of 15 memorandums of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in various sectors.

During a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on September 15, Xi described Cambodia-China ties as a “large tree with strong deep roots, which will give everlasting fruit to both countries”.

Xi also believed that under Manet’s leadership, the ties and friendship between the two countries will flourish and grow stronger.

Seun Sam, a policy analyst from the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post described the results of Manet’s visit as important and the trip a success, although there was no mention of support through financial aid.

“The visit was really important for both countries, especially Cambodia. Both nations have their own interests, in terms of security, diplomacy and the economy. The Cambodian prime minster also delivered a speech at the China-ASEAN Expo, which shared Cambodia’s perspectives on trade with regional leaders,” he said.

“Manet was warmly welcomed by Chinese leaders, including Xi, and his speech at the expo was a great opportunity for Cambodia to showcase its new leadership,” Sam added.