Chinese President Xi Jinping on February 10 announced a 300 million yuan ($44 million) grant package to support the Kingdom’s railway ambitions, which are expected to improve the livelihoods of many Cambodians, according to National Television of Cambodia (TVK).

This comes during a meeting between Xi and Prime Minister Hun Sen on the second day of his February 9-11 visit to China.

According to TVK, the two leaders agreed at the meeting to foster a “diamond-” like cooperation, pushing bilateral relations to a “new peak”, with Xi thanking Hun Sen for his public declaration that, “if I don't rely on China, who would I rely on?”

China’s assistance has driven progress of Cambodia, and consolidated the Kingdom’s sovereignty, the premier said.

Both leaders lauded the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement which entered into force on January 1, 2022, improving market access to China for Cambodian agricultural and fisheries products.

They hailed their bilateral relations, which have been lifted from a “comprehensive cooperation” to an “ironclad friendship” and a “community of common destiny” underpinned by mutual cooperation.

TVK said Xi and Hun Sen pledged to promote the building of a “community of common destiny”, with a focus in six priority areas: politics and diplomacy; textiles and production; agriculture; energy; security; and improvements in the Cambodian health sector as well as people-to-people relations.

Xi voiced support for Cambodia's stance and policy on its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and expressed interest in agricultural and aquacultural development in the environs of the Tonle Sap Lake.

Hun Sen welcomed Xi's initiative to establish a “Fish and Rice Corridor” in northwestern Cambodia, commenting that the region was earmarked as an additional “economic pole”.

“The prime minister asked the president to encourage more Chinese tourists to … fearlessly travel to Cambodia,” TVK said, adding that the leaders agreed to foster cooperation on electricity generation, particularly on projects with an eco-friendly focus.

Hun Sen largely credited Cambodia’s economic recovery to China’s vaccine donations, reflecting on the potential tragedy that may have occurred otherwise, after the Kingdom “reopened” on November 1, with the government moving to allow for the resumption of economic activity.

Cambodian state news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) mentioned that Hun Sen was Xi’s “first foreign guest” after the Lunar New Year.