PHNOM PENH – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet will visit China this week and meet President Xi Jinping, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.
“At the invitation of Premier Li Qiang… Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet will pay an official visit to China from Sept 14 to 16,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said in a statement.
Mr Hun Manet will also meet and hold talks with Premier Li Qiang and Standing Committee chairman Zhao Leji, Ms Mao said in a regular briefing.
Mr Hun Manet took over from his father Hun Sen, the country’s long-time leader, 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 Mr 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,” Ms Mao said on Monday.
“It reflects the great importance that the new Cambodian government attaches to the development of China-Cambodia relations,” she added, noting that 2023 would see the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia.
Ms Mao said that Beijing “looks forward to using this visit to plan for the future comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Cambodia”.
Beijing 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, Mr Hun Manet met China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, saying on his Telegram channel that the two had “pledged to promote cooperation between the two countries”.
Mr Hun Manet 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.
Mr 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 that 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 Asean, which is in talks with China about a code of conduct in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety. AFP
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