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Xiplomacy: China, Cambodia build on ironclad friendship

Pub Date:2023-09-18 09:16 Source:Xinhua

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia as well as the China-Cambodia Friendship Year.

During his meeting with visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet in Beijing on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China and Cambodia are ironclad friends.

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- After returning from Prey Veng Province in Cambodia on Sept. 9, Zhong Shan, head of a Chinese medical team dispatched to Cambodia, immediately started to share her experiences with the next batch heading for the Southeast Asian country for the Cataract Blindness Elimination Project.

Zhong, chief ophthalmologist from a local hospital in China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was one of the seven members of the third medical team performing sight-restoring surgeries in Cambodia's Prey Veng Province, restoring sight in nearly 1,000 patients in more than 40 days.

"On the first day after the operation, when I took off the gauze eye pad, the first thing I saw was the Chinese flag," said Nou Beng, 75, who had been blind for more than 10 years before receiving the surgery from Chinese doctors.

"Thank you for helping me see the world clearly again," he said.

HELPING HAND

A helping hand was also extended to those suffering from poverty.

Srun Songthuy, a 37-year-old farmer, turned into a self-employed entrepreneur in his hometown after working in cities for years to make a living.

He started a chicken farm with the support of a China-funded pilot project in Tanorn village, Doung commune of Takeo Province's Bati district, a poor commune.

"Now, concrete roads were built and solar street lights were installed in the village," commune chief Nop Touch said. "Everyone has access to clean water and is full of hope."

In the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the China-funded and built Morodok Techo National Stadium has become a big hit on the Internet. Resembling a sailing ship with both prows 99 meters tall, the stadium is encircled by an ancient Angkor-style moat.

"This stadium is the pride of our country and people because in the history of Cambodia, we had never had such a huge and modern stadium, and it will help raise Cambodia's profile in the sports world in the international arena," said Huot Kanha, a 27-year-old badminton player.

In May and June this year, the stadium was the main venue of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games and the 12th ASEAN Para Games. To ensure the success of the two international events, Liu Yong, head of the Chinese post-maintenance team for the stadium project, stayed with his colleagues to monitor the water and power supply and trained local staff.

"Now local employees can independently undertake the maintenance of the stadium in the future," Liu said.

IRONCLAD FRIENDS

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia as well as the China-Cambodia Friendship Year.

During his meeting with visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet in Beijing on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China and Cambodia are ironclad friends.

Xi called on both sides to enrich the China-Cambodia "Diamond Hexagon" cooperation framework, jointly build the "Industrial Development Corridor" and the "Fish and Rice Corridor," and promote the early implementation of relevant key cooperation projects.

Hun Manet, whose three-day trip to China from Thursday to Saturday is his first official visit after taking office in August, said Cambodia appreciates China's long-term strong support and assistance in Cambodia's economic and social development, and is willing to work with China to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen Belt and Road cooperation, and push for further development of bilateral cooperation under the "Diamond Hexagon" framework.

The "Diamond Hexagon" cooperation framework was agreed on between Xi and then-Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen in February.

It focuses on six priority areas, namely politics, production capacity, agriculture, energy, security, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, a blueprint for the long-term development of bilateral relations.

Speaking of the current visit, Seun Sam, a policy analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said it is expected to strengthen existing bilateral ties, as well as open up new paths for cooperation and growth for Cambodia.

"It will strengthen the historical and cultural ties that Cambodia and China already have in order to deepen cooperation, particularly under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative," he said.

WIN-WIN PARTNERS

The forthcoming Industrial Development Corridor and Fish and Rice Corridor are likely to get a boost from Hun Manet's Beijing trip, experts said.

The Industrial Development Corridor aims at supporting the development of coastal Sihanoukville into a model multipurpose special economic zone, said Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, a think-tank under the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

The current Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), a flagship project of Belt and Road cooperation between the two countries, has so far attracted more than 170 companies, creating tens of thousands of jobs for local people.

It is not only a key manufacturing hub, but also an incubator for skilled labor.

Em Sreyda, an employee at the China-invested General Tire Technology (Cambodia) factory, said she had been sent to Thailand for training before starting her job at the SSEZ.

"I'm happy to work here because the Chinese people are like our brothers and sisters, and they are willing to teach us," she told Xinhua. "Working here, we can improve our Chinese proficiency, and there are also a lot of opportunities for self-advancement."

The Fish and Rice Corridor to be established aims to develop modern ecological agriculture near the Tonle Sap Lake area, said Kin Phea.

In early May, an expert team from the Freshwater Fisheries Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences went to Cambodia for on-site research, with a purpose to lay the foundation for in-depth cooperation in the fishery industry between China and Cambodia.

In Kin Phea's view, the two economic corridors reflect Cambodia's hope of developing an industrial hub and a modern ecological agricultural center.

"These two corridors will give a big boost to Cambodia's economic development and poverty reduction through creating jobs for workers and farmers," he said.

Editor:Zheng Chen

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