Cambodian PM to visit China, Meet Xi This Week: Beijing

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Manet speaks during the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta on September 4, 2023. Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

Beijing, China -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet will visit China this week and meet with President Xi Jinping, Beijing's foreign ministry announced Monday.

"At the invitation of Premier Li Qiang... Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet will pay an official visit to China from September 14th to 16th," foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in a statement.

Hun Manet will also meet and hold talks with Premier Li Qiang and Standing Committee Chairman Zhao Leji, she told a regular briefing.

Hun Manet took over from his father, the country's longtime leader Hun Sen, in August.

Phnom Penh became one of China's strongest allies in the region under Hun Sen, who ruled with an iron fist for almost four decades, receiving huge sums of Chinese investment.

The visit will be one of Hun Manet's first abroad since becoming prime minister, after he attended the summit of ASEAN leaders in Jakarta last week.

"This will be Prime Minister Hun Manet's first official visit since taking office," Mao said Monday.

"It reflects the great importance that the new Cambodian government attaches to the development of China-Cambodia relations," she added, noting that 2023 will see the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia.

Beijing, Mao said, "looks forward to using this visit to plan for the future comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Cambodia".

It hopes to "achieve results as soon as possible, so as to build a high-quality, high-level and high-standard China-Cambodia community with a shared future in the new era," she added.

In August, Hun Manet met with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the capital Phnom Penh, saying on his Telegram channel that the two had "pledged to promote cooperation between the two countries".

He also reaffirmed in a Facebook post his government's "unchanged position" towards the issue of Taiwan -- which Beijing claims as part of its territory -- and promised no interference in Chinese national affairs.

Wang also met his Cambodian counterpart and reaffirmed Beijing's "unwavering commitment" to respecting Cambodian sovereignty and conveyed China's support for the kingdom, according to a Cambodian foreign ministry statement.

His visit followed diplomatic clashes between Beijing and Manila over their claims to the South China Sea.

China insisted a Philippine navy vessel grounded on a reef in the Spratly Islands be removed from the hotly contested waters, long a flashpoint between them, after the Philippines accused the China Coast Guard of firing water cannon at boats on a resupply mission last weekend.

Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines are all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is in talks with China about a code of conduct in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.

© Agence France-Presse

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