Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, making a four-day visit to China, says Beijing has agreed to provide his nation with nearly USD600 million in grant aid as part of a three-year assistance fund.
Hun Sen announced the aid from Cambodia’s most important political and economic ally on his Facebook page yesterday before any announcement by Beijing. He said the commitment was made in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Hun Sen said the two countries also agreed to increase their bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023 and Xi promised to buy 400,000 tons of rice from Cambodia in 2019 and push more Chinese businesses to invest in Cambodia.
The agreements come as some Western countries are threatening to impose economic sanctions on Cambodia for repressing democratic rights.
Cambodia has grown increasingly close to China in recent years as Hun Sen’s government has become estranged from the United States, which is critical of his long-running authoritarian rule.
China is Cambodia’s most important political and economic ally, providing millions of dollars in aid and investment, writing off debts and granting the country tariff-free status for hundreds of items.
Cambodia in turn has done Beijing’s diplomatic bidding in the region, especially regarding China’s claims to most of the South China Sea. MDT/AP