Hun Sen visit proves solidarity between China, Cambodia

By Tang Qifang Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/7 14:38:43

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China on Wednesday. Photo: Xinhua

Spring Festival in 2020 has been a special holiday. Due to the epidemic caused by the new type of coronavirus, relatives and friends couldn't be able to make the traditional home visits that feature family banquets, games and long chats. It's a strange sight to see few pedestrians on usually busy streets. But none of this has prevented the arrival of a special guest from afar: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Hun Sen in Beijing on Wednesday.

As usual, the Chinese government gave a gracious reception to the guest. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi greeted Hun Sen at the airport. President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang held separate meetings with Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People. Hun Sen said Cambodia will stand firmly with the Chinese government to eliminate panic and overcome difficulties together. Cambodia believes that the Chinese people would surely win the fight against the epidemic, said Hun Sen.

At this special moment, Hun Sen and the Cambodian people have demonstrated the deep and sincere friendship between China and Cambodia through actions. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia, Hun Sen has repeatedly stated the position of the Cambodian government: Students studying in China and diplomats working in China will not be brought back, nor will flights between Cambodia and China be suspended. Except for flights to and from Wuhan, Cambodia has not banned other Chinese flights from entering or leaving Cambodia. Cambodia's Siem Reap Province has donated 100,000 medical masks to Chongqing after the outbreak. On February 3, the first batch of 1,190 boxes containing 59,500 surgical masks arrived in Chongqing. Even the 86 Cambodian children who received free congenital heart disease treatment in Yunnan have recently purchased 5,021 masks in Cambodia to support China's fight against the epidemic.

History shows the friendship between China and Cambodia has stood the test of time. Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and other Chinese leaders and Cambodian King-Father Norodom Sihanouk supported each other, weathered storms together and forged a solid friendship. After achieving peace in Cambodia, the two countries made full use of highly complementary resource endowments and development advantages to actively carry out comprehensive economic cooperation.

At present, China has become Cambodia's largest trading partner and source of foreign investment. From January to November 2019, bilateral trade volume between China and Cambodia reached $8.53 billion, a year-on-year increase of 27.8 percent. By the end of November 2019, China had invested nearly $9 billion in Cambodia, giving a strong boost to the country's sustained and rapid economic growth.

China and Cambodia are geographically close, and increasing people-to-people exchanges have linked people's hearts. In the first half of 2019, Cambodia received 1.29 million Chinese tourists, a year-on-year increase of 38.7 percent. Since the two countries established diplomatic ties in July 1958, China has always given priority to developing relations with Cambodia in its neighborhood diplomacy and supported Cambodia in pursuing a development path suited to its national conditions. Cambodia has also provided China with firm political support on various international and regional political issues. The two countries are sincere friends, good partners for comprehensive strategic cooperation and truly good brothers.

Hun Sen's visit not only demonstrates the warmth of the hearts of China-Cambodia friendship, but also reflects the importance of rational thinking at critical moments. Regarding the outbreak, the World Health Organization has repeatedly emphasized that it is not recommended that countries implement any travel or trade restrictions, and urges countries not to listen to rumors, adhere to science, and take evidence-based measures. But some countries have responded by stepping up quarantine measures and restricting flights to and from China, including the US, which on Sunday banned all noncitizens who have traveled to China in the past 14 days from entering.

Some Western media, which have long been anti-China, called the new coronavirus a "China virus," and took the crisis as an opportunity to stir up anti-China sentiment. These irrational and even extreme actions will only cause panic which is worse than the virus itself. In the era of globalization, the interests and destinies of all countries are intertwined. In the face of a public health crisis, only through solidarity and cooperation will countries truly safeguard their common interests. Hun Sen has repeatedly emphasized that the new coronavirus is not only a problem for China, but a problem for the world. This is the rational and human attitude that the international community should face when dealing with global issues.

Hun Sen's visit once again confirms that China-Cambodia friendship is a model for neighborhood diplomacy and international relations.

The author is an assistant researcher at the China Institute of International Studies.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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