Cambodia reiterated its unwavering support for China regarding the Taiwan issue, re-stating the Kingdom’s support for the one-China policy during an official visit by a senior Chinese leader.

The stance was shared with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi during his three-day visit to Cambodia, which ended today, according to a joint press release by the two governments.

The release said Cambodia emphasised its recognition that the People's Republic of China is the only legal government representing the whole of China. It added that Cambodia views Taiwan as an “inalienable” part of China's territory.

“Cambodia opposes any attempt to use the Taiwan question to interfere in China's internal affairs, opposes any form of ‘Taiwanese independence’, firmly supports all efforts by the Chinese government to achieve national reunification and will not develop any form of official relations with Taiwan,” the statement said.

Cambodia and China will also join hands to fight against cross-border crimes, including online gambling, telecommunications fraud and drug trafficking.

They will also strengthen defence cooperation and continue to hold joint training exercises, in order to advance collaboration in fields such as medical services and logistics, personnel training and mine clearance.

Regarding development cooperation, the two sides have deepened and substantiated their efforts to build a Cambodia-China community with a shared future, enriched the "Diamond Hexagon" cooperation framework, and made positive progress in building the Industrial and Technological Corridor, and the Fish and Rice Corridor, for tangible benefits to the two nations and their peoples.

On security, China reiterated their support for Cambodia's choice of the development path that suits Cambodian national conditions. They also stressed their support for the Kingdom’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, and expressed firm opposition to external interference in Cambodia's internal affairs.

Regarding regional security, the release said: “Both sides agreed that it serves the common interests of all countries in the region to safeguard the hard-won peace and stability, and promote development and prosperity in the region”.

While meeting with Senate president Hun Sen, Wang noted that the Chinese leadership pays close attention to Cambodia’s leaders and viewed the change of leadership from the older generation to the younger one as the right path for the Kingdom, according to Hun Sen’s personal social media channel.

Wang hoped that the friendship between Cambodia and China will continue to grow and that China will continue to be a trusted partner of Cambodia.

“He explained that China will continue to strengthen cooperation with the new Cambodian government, support and provide security protection for Samdech [Hun Sen] and his family, and pay close attention to the relationship between the two parties, while contributing to information exchanges and combating colour revolutions,” added the social media post.

Regarding the one-China policy, Am Sam Ath, operations director of the human rights group LICADHO, said it was not unusual for Cambodia to show their support for China because China is Cambodia’s largest development partner and a good friend.

“So, this is the reason that Cambodia must support this,” he added.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay noted that many countries, including the US, have adopted a one-China policy.

“Therefore, Cambodia has a legitimate right to oppose any attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs,” he said.

He believed that a formal military alliance or pact with China would be unlikely, explaining that it would be in breach of the Constitution’s Article 53, which prohibits such agreements.

“It would also be in breach of the [Paris Peace] Agreement concerning the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, neutrality and national unity of Cambodia (Article1), which also restrains Cambodia from entering such alliances and pacts,” he added.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Cambodia’s stance on the one-China policy was based on a position adopted in the 1950s, between the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and then-Chinese leader Zhou Enlai.

“Based on this position, it is clear that Cambodia must not have any formal relations with Taiwan. We need to look back to the 1955 policy made between King Sihanouk and Zhou,” he explained.

According to Peou, the policy centred on five principles: Respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each other, no invasion of each other, no internal interference, and the belief that all countries are equal and deserve mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.

“Cambodia will continue to reiterate its position on the one-China policy. It is not only part of the legacy of a former leader, but a foundational position of China as well as that of Cambodia,” he said.

When asked why Cambodia needed to reiterate its stance on one-China policy, Peou explained that it was probably meant to clarify any confusion or avoid political manipulation by some countries.

He regarded the Taiwan issue as a “scale”, or tool used to measure geopolitics between China and the West.

“If Cambodia does not understand the nature of geopolitical competition and does not maintain a stance on the one-China policy, Cambodia may suffer on the scale of geopolitical contests. This is why it must make its position clear,” he said.

Regarding online gambling and fraud, Sam Ath believed it was a good thing that both sides are paying close attention to these issues.

“We have observed many cases of online gambling and telecommunication fraud, especially involving Chinese citizens. Recently, we saw a case in Preah Sihanouk province, in which a joint operation was mounted with Chinese authorities. The suspects were deported to China. This type of cooperation is excellent,” he said.

However, he added that it was important to maintain the political will necessary to keep up the momentum of enforcement activities.

“We must increase our commitment to combating online gambling and telecommunication fraud, which are both illegal in Cambodia. No matter whether the perpetrators have influential backers or not, the law must be enforced,” he stated.

Sam Ath explained that should online gambling and fraud continue, it could affect investment interest from foreign sources and have a detrimental effect on the tourism industry, as well as national security.

Similarly, Peou highlighted the importance of both countries jointly dealing with these matters, lest it affect their relations, security and international investment, as well as the Kingdom’s reputation on the international stage.