Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said on Monday that China’s development has greatly benefited the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) socioeconomic development.
Speaking after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Malaysia-based Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific for his contribution to enhancing ASEAN-China relations, Hun Sen said ASEAN-China cooperation has grown steadily over the past three decades and that China is a key supporter for ASEAN’s centrality and unity.
“The development of China is a miraculous achievement, which has not only benefited the Chinese people, but also delivered numerous positive benefits to ASEAN and Cambodia in terms of economic, social, and geo-political dimensions,” he said.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN and China established dialogue relations in 1991.
Hun Sen said the ASEAN-China cooperation has been opening a new chapter through the implementation of the ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the establishment of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area.
“These will further contribute to enhancing relations and cooperation between the two regions with greater potential and dynamism,” he said.
ASEAN-China cooperation was essential to promoting peace, stability, and development in the entire region and world, he said, adding that the two sides must work together to further promote regional cooperation that is open, transparent, inclusive, complementary and mutually beneficial.
“For instance, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is one of the excellent role models for trading systems, and reflects the genuine commitment to strengthening regional cooperation,” Hun Sen said.
“In this spirit, we must continue and intensify efforts to foster other regional initiatives and cooperation aimed at taking maximum advantages from those potential for the development of both regions,” he added.
Speaking of the Cambodia-China ties in particular, Hun Sen said the bilateral cooperation has grown politically, economically and socially, which is reflected in the frequent mutual visits, expansion of trade, investment and tourism, as well as the increase in people-to-people exchanges.
“The relationship between Cambodia and China has grown with pride to the point of being recognized as an Iron-Clad Friend, along with the increase of bilateral trade to around $11 billion in 2021, up 37 percent compared to that in 2020,” he said.
Hun Sen said that China’s assistance to Cambodia for fighting COVID-19 over the past two years was very valuable, helping the kingdom protect lives and reduce socio-economic fallout.
(Cover: Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 13, 2022. /CFP)