Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Thursday promised Cambodia hundreds of millions of US dollars in aid and loans during a state visit to the nation, which is one Beijing’s staunchest regional allies.
Hundreds of students waving Cambodian and Chinese flags greeted Xi alongside officials at the airport before his motorcade sped into town for an audience with the royal family and later Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Cambodia has long been a strident supporter of Beijing’s communist rulers, who have lavished the poor nation with cash.
On Thursday the two leaders signed 31 agreements that saw China give Cambodia US$178 million in aid for economic cooperation, a US$59 million loan, plus an additional US$15 million in military aid.
Xi also forgave a US$89 million debt, the leaders said in a joint announcement after a signing ceremony.
China is Cambodia’s top foreign investor and has given the nation billions of US dollars in grants and low-interest loans during Hun Sen’s 31-year rule.
In July it offered Cambodia nearly US$550 million in aid, days after the kingdom was accused of undermining regional unity by backing Beijing in disputes over the South China Sea.
In recent years Cambodia has become a thorn in the side for neighboring nations hoping to present a unified front against China’s island-building in the contested waters.
Several Southeast Asian nations, including Taiwan, have competing claims to parts of the sea and many in the region want to keep pressure on China over its efforts to militarize the sea.
However, Cambodia’s unwavering support of China has scuppered regional efforts to jointly rebuke Beijing.
Ahead of Xi’s trip, a Cambodian newspaper published an article signed by Xi that praised the Southeast Asian nation for coming to its defense over the sea row.
“When China acted to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests and was devoted to resolving related disputes through peaceful negotiation, Cambodia did not hesitate to speak out to uphold justice,” the Chinese president wrote in the article published by Cambodia’s Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper.
He also described the two nations’ friendship as “beaming with new vitality” and enjoying “deep political trust and win-win economic cooperation.”
Large portraits of Xi and Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni were erected along the streets of Phnom Penh ahead of the two-day visit.
Hun Sen regularly praises Beijing’s “no-strings-attached” aid, compared with help from the US and EU, which is often accompanied by calls to address corruption and human rights abuses in Cambodia.
“For Cambodia, China is the most important strategic and economic partner,” Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies chair Vannarith Chheang said, adding that Cambodia, in turn, is China’s “most reliable friend in Southeast Asia.”
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,
STRONGER DEFENSES: The announcement could be considered tacit US support for the nation’s indigenous arms manufacturing program, Joseph Wu told lawmakers Just hours after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on Wednesday, the US Department of State’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in Washington the possible sale of 18 MK-48 Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan. Reacting to the announcement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the ministry applauded the US move, which would help to uphold the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA states that the US should “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character … to maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer