West’s accusation of unfair vote won’t hinder Cambodia’s progress

By Tang Qifang Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/2 18:33:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

According to the preliminary results of Cambodia's sixth general election held on Sunday,  the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of Prime Minister Hun Sen earned 4.86 million, or 77.5 percent, of the total valid votes. However, in view of the party's overwhelming victory, some Western governments and media outlets questioned the credibility of the election. They also accused China of supporting the "iron-fist rule" of Hun Sen. 

The basic and core concept of Western democracy is one person, one vote, which encourages citizens to participate in elections and exercise their political rights. Statistics show that the voter turnout in this year's election reached 82.17 percent, far exceeding the 69.61 during the previous election in 2013. Besides, a total of 20 political parties took part in Sunday's ballot while the figure was only eight last time. These numbers are a slap in the face of those Westerners who point an accusing finger at what they call the regression of democracy in the Southeast Asian nation.  

Cambodia was fully prepared for this year's general election. Thanks to the extensive preparation, the ballot was orderly, legitimate and transparent. The National Election Committee, which was established more than 20 years ago, managed and supervised the election based on the principles of openness, fairness and justice and in an independent, professional and mature manner.

The high turnout rate indicates the Cambodian people have exercised their democratic rights while the votes obtained by the CPP are a recognition of its achievements in guaranteeing the survival and development of citizens.

Hun Sen has been in power for 33 years, during which he has committed himself to promoting Cambodia's economic prosperity and development. Hun Sen and his party have made great achievements in boosting the economy and improving people's lives.

According to the World Bank, Cambodian GDP grew at an average annual rate of over eight percent between 2000 and 2010 and over seven percent since 2011. The poverty rate dropped from 53.5 percent in 2004 to less than 10 percent in 2017. Hun Sen has put forward an ambitious vision to turn Cambodia into an upper middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.  

The West's unwarranted accusations against China-Cambodia relations are a reflection of its jealousy. Upholding the five principles of peaceful coexistence, China will never interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

The year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia. The two countries have formed a strong friendship. China has placed Cambodia in an important position in its neighborhood diplomacy and supported its development commensurate with its own national conditions. Cambodia has also provided firm political support to China on various international and regional issues.

Besides, the two economies are highly complementary and have achieved win-win cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative. It's hard for Western countries that prioritize self-interest in international relations to understand such mutually beneficial relations.

The US and some European countries adopted various means such as suspending aid and inciting domestic protests in Cambodia to pressure the government to revoke the disqualification of the Cambodia National Rescue Party in the election. The party was barred from contesting by the Supreme Court for plotting to topple the government. This is blunt intervention in the internal affairs of others. The purpose is to expand its influence in Cambodia and foster pro-Western forces. It's easy to see that their allegations about China-Cambodian collusion and about Cambodia's democracy are feeble.

The author is an assistant researcher at the China Institute of International Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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