China helps Cambodia gain economic parity in region

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/11 0:38:39

Cambodia is expecting more economic support from China ahead of President Xi Jinping's state visit starting Thursday since China's loans and assistance are mostly used for livelihood projects and infrastructure development with no strings attached, according to analysts.

The Khmer Times reported that Xi will likely commit more development assistance to Cambodia, further promote bilateral trade and investment, deepen tourism cooperation and strengthen people-to-people exchanges.

Infrastructure development and regional connectivity will also be discussed by Xi and Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to the Khmer Times.

Xi visited Cambodia as vice president in 2009, calling China-Cambodia relations "a good example of sincere cooperation between countries with different social systems," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

No strings attached

"China and Cambodia have been close for many years. Strengthening trade and economic ties with Cambodia and providing loans fits into China's foreign policy to share the fruits of development with its neighbors," Song Yinghui, a research fellow from the Institute of South Asian, Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

China agreed in July to provide $600 million to Cambodia for its infrastructure, education and health, the Daily Mail reported.

China's loans to Cambodia are used for livelihood projects and to develop its infrastructure, including railways and power stations, Sun Xiaoying, a research fellow at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Sun stressed that unlike some Western countries like the US, China's aid usually comes without conditions.

"China helps Cambodia to have an equal footing with others like its neighboring countries in terms of economics, in terms of independence in our foreign policy and in terms of neutrality," Cambodian government spokesperson Phay Siphan was quoted by the Cambodia Daily as saying during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Phnom Penh in 2013.

China does not use financial assistance as political leverage but as a win-win strategy, since China can provide a huge market for Cambodian products and also transfer China's surplus production to the country, said Song.

Driven by the Belt and Road initiative and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism, bilateral cooperation would be further strengthened, she noted.

China has provided more than $3 billion in loans and grants to Cambodia since 1992, according to the Cambodia Daily.

Song said China is not the only country to offer Cambodia assistance, since the country welcomes assistance for economic development, and solid ties between China and Cambodia help the flow of financial assistance.

VOA news reported that China's assistance is meant to win Cambodia's support in international forums, "including in discussions over the future of the South China Sea." It added "the money will partly be spent on election preparations for 2017 and 2018."

Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that it is unfair for some media to say that China is providing assistance to win over Cambodia, since China's stance on the South China Sea issue is already supported by many other ASEAN countries and the international community. "China has always respected the sovereignty of other countries."

Xi was invited by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni to the country on Thursday, before heading to India for the 8th BRICS summit, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang announced Monday.

Xi's Cambodia visit will be his first to the Southeast Asian nation since taking office and will be significant in consolidating bilateral ties, said Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou at a press briefing on Monday, according to Xinhua.

Xi will meet with Sihamoni and visit his mother, former Queen Norodom Monineath, as well as hold talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen. Deals are expected to be signed during the visit, Xinhua reported.



Posted in: Diplomacy

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