At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council, Prime Minister Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia paid an official visit to China from January 20 to 23, 2019. This is Prime Minister Hun Sens first visit to China after his victory in Cambodias general election in July 2018, and his first visit in 2019, which has a very strong guiding significance. China-Cambodia relations have just undergone the baptism of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2018. The concepts of friendship, mutual support, hardship and common ground between the two countries and their peoples have been more deeply integrated into their foreign policies and actions, and gradually consolidated, upgraded and sublimated in the process of building a community of destiny with strategic significance.
In the near future, on the basis of comprehensive strategic partnership, China and Cambodia have also been effectively reflected in building a community of destiny with strategic significance.
In terms of military security, on January 9, 2019, the 30th convoy of the Chinese Navy, consisting of missile frigate Wuhu, Handan and comprehensive supply ship Dongping Lake, arrived at Sihanouk Port, Cambodia, and made a four-day friendly visit to Cambodia. This is the fourth visit of the Chinese naval fleet to Cambodia in recent years. It is an important manifestation of the military exchanges between China and Cambodia. At the same time, Cambodia emphasizes the development and transparency of military cooperation between the two countries and safeguards the legitimacy and legitimacy of normal military exchanges between the two countries. Generally speaking, military diplomacy is a barometer reflecting international relations and a strong driving force for consolidating and promoting Sino-Cambodian relations. In recent years, China has not only become an important supplier and assistant of Cambodian military equipment, but also provided a lot of support and assistance to enhance Cambodian military capability through training and other means.
In terms of economic development, China is Cambodias largest trading partner and import source, the largest source of foreign investment and the largest foreign aid country. According to statistics from the Rice Export Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia, in 2018, the rice export volume of Cambodia was about 630,000 tons, while China imported about 170,000 tons, accounting for 27.17% of the total export volume, ranking first among the importing countries. The economic development of China and Cambodia is highly complementary. In recent years, significant progress has been made in promoting the highly coordinated one belt and one way initiative and the four corners strategy project.
From a sociocultural point of view, the direct flights between Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Beijing, China will be opened from January 1, 2019, which provides new opportunities for bilateral exchanges and reflects the new height and density of Sino-Cambodian exchanges. According to Cambodian media Cambodian Times reported on January 15, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that in 2018, Cambodia received 6.2 million foreign tourists, China is the largest source of tourists, making a huge contribution. Chinese tourists to Cambodia increased from 1.2 million in 2017 to 1.6 million in 2018. In addition, exchanges and cooperation between China and Cambodia in the fields of youth, tourism, culture, security and law enforcement have not only enhanced mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples, but also helped to provide a solid foundation for the development of bilateral relations in a deeper and broader field.
Generally speaking, as Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said in an interview on January 16, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sens visit to China will promote the building of a deepening version of political mutual trust between China and Cambodia, an upgraded version of pragmatic cooperation, an expanded version of cultural exchanges, and a strengthened version of law enforcement and security cooperation, thus injecting better and faster development into the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. New impetus will contribute to peace and stability in the region.
In terms of prospects, as President Xi Jinping stressed during his meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen, 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia, and bilateral relations have maintained a high level of development. To build a one belt and one road will continue to go deep. Both sides maintain close communication and coordination in regional and international affairs. At present, China-Cambodia relations are facing new opportunities for development. China is ready to work with Cambodia to further clarify the key points of cooperation, plan a blueprint for development and push Sino-Cambodian relations to a new level, with the goal of building a strategic destiny community between China and Cambodia. As the foreign ministers visit in 2019, Prime Minister Hun Sen also placed high expectations on this visit in advance, hoping to provide more growth points and highlights for cooperation between the two countries in the future.
Specifically, in terms of political security, China and Cambodia will take the signing of the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation as a new impetus, as an upgraded version of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which will become a new cornerstone for standardizing strategic security cooperation between China and Cambodia, so that the two countries will have a more solid political guarantee in building a strategic community of destiny; from an economic point of view, on the basis of the strategic doc The mutual reference and construction of mechanisms and concepts will further promote the economic interdependence and integration between China and Cambodia, and become the bond of mutual support and mutual growth. From the social and cultural point of view, Emperor Sihanouk once said, The long-term and solid friendship between Cambodia and China is like a flower that never fades, which will always open in a clear sky. It is also true that the friendship between China and Cambodia needs the careful maintenance of the two peoples, and it has become a model for the world to envy the full garden of spring. At present, both countries have the willingness and ability, and also have plans to promote closer cooperation between the two countries.
Under the increasingly complex international situation, China and Cambodia understand and respect each other in regional and international regional affairs, communicate, cooperate and support each other on issues related to their core interests and major concerns, and contribute to regional peace, stability and development and prosperity.
Zhou Shixin, Director of Foreign Affairs Department of the Institute of Foreign Policy, Shanghai Institute of International Relations, and columnist of Overseas Network.