Hun Manet to Meet China’s Foreign Minister

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets with Cambodian People's Party's Permanent Committee member and Prime Minister candidate Hun Manet in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aug. 3, 2022. Photo: Xinhua/Wu Changwei

PHNOM PENH – Hun Manet is to meet his first senior foreign official since a date was set for him to assume the country’s leadership when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pays an official visit to Cambodia this weekend.

Wang will have an audience with the King and pay separate courtesy calls to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Hun Manet.

The top Chinese diplomat will be in Cambodia on Aug. 12 and 13 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn.

Talks will encompass a range of issues about bilateral and multilateral cooperation, reflecting shared priorities, Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry said.

Hun Manet and Wang have met before, in August last year when Hun Manet was a Cambodian People's Party permanent committee member.

The two sides reportedly spoke in depth about China-Cambodia relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest.

Analysts have been looking at Hun Manet’s history to try to predict his priorities as prime minister when he takes over on Aug 22.

Jack Sato, a data analyst at the Lowy Institute think tank in Australia, said Hun Manet has been active in regional defence diplomacy, and in 2022 met 29 senior defence officials.

“Hun Manet was most active in meeting his counterparts from the Mekong region (14 engagements with Vietnam and seven with Thailand between 2019 and 2022), followed by other important regional actors such as Japan, South Korea and China,” Sato wrote in the institute’s the interpreter newsletter.

“More importantly, Hun Manet’s interactions with leaders, deputy leaders and foreign ministers have increased sharply since his announcement as Cambodia’s next prime minister.

“Prior to the succession announcement, Hun Manet had limited engagement with senior political figures.

“In 2019, he only met with the Singaporean foreign minister and deputy prime minister, both on his trip to Singapore. While in 2020, he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, although that was during a trip to China with his father.

“However, since Hun Sen’s declaration of support for his son, things have changed. In 2022, Hun Manet met with ten leaders, deputy leaders or foreign ministers.

“While it would be misguided to draw conclusions about Cambodia’s foreign policy trajectory from Hun Manet’s diplomatic engagements alone, they indicate that his focus is on shoring up ties with Cambodia’s neighbours, as well as close partners China and Japan,” Sato writes.

“Despite Hun Manet’s West Point education, his engagement with the United States has been limited.”

This suggested that Washington and Canberra may need to be more active in pursuing pathways to influence him, Sato writes.

During his Cambodia visit, Wang will also meet Sokhonn and Sok Chenda Sophea, Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

The visit coincides with the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the Year of Friendship between Cambodia and China.

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