A government spokesman on Thursday welcomed remarks of support for the ruling CPP from China’s foreign minister, saying they showed Cambodia’s main benefactor was an example to other foreign states.
Following meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi congratulated the CPP on its election victory, even though official results have not been announced and are still under contention, and suggested China would help Cambodia to resist outside interference.
“China will continue to thoroughly support Cambodia in preventing disturbance from outside,” Mr. Wang said during a joint press conference with Mr. Namhong.
“China will continue to thoroughly support the Royal Government in order to ensure stability and economic development and peace.”
Several Western nations, most notably the U.S., have called for an investigation into allegations of vote rigging during the July 28 national election, which both the CPP and opposition CNRP claim to have won.
In response to Mr. Wang’s comments, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said other nations should take note of China’s regard for Cambodia’s sovereignty.
“The Chinese foreign minister went with the principle of sovereignty and an independent state. It’s a principle of the U.N. charter,” Mr. Siphan said.
“China is a superpower that shows a role model to others. They [the Chinese] respect sovereignty and the people’s choice.”
Mr. Siphan contrasted China’s approach to Cambodia with other members of the U.N. Security Council.
“China helps Cambodia to have an equal footing with others like the neighboring countries in terms of economics, in terms of independence in our foreign policy and in terms of neutrality,” he said.
Asked about Mr. Wang’s comments, Cheng Hongbo, chief of the political section at the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the foreign minister’s remarks were not directed at anyone in particular.
“For ‘disturbance’ you mentioned by [Foreign Minister] Wang’s remarks, I don’t think it refers to any specific elements, rather it refers to any difficulties that the Cambodian government should overcome in its process to maintain peace, stability and development. Surely China will do what we can to help Cambodia at the request of the latter,” he said.
Mr. Wang’s visit this week marked a further strengthening of ties with China, which now provides a large portion of Cambodia’s grants, loans and military aid—without the strings attached to Western aid.
Mr. Namhong and Mr. Hun Sen are both set to visit China in the coming weeks. According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Namhong will lead a Cambodian delegation to an Asean-China foreign ministers meeting in Beijing on August 28 and 29.
Council of Ministers secretary of state Prak Sokhun said on Wednesday that Mr. Hun Sen would be visiting Nanning in China’s Guangxi province early in September to hold bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
The U.S. has called for allegations of large-scale irregularities at the election to be investigated transparently. That has seemingly provoked anger from Cambodia, with Mr. Hun Sen publicly daring the U.S. to sever aid to Cambodia, and with the Defense Ministry postponing some U.S.-backed military aid programs.
In response to questions about Mr. Wang’s apparent reference to the U.S., embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said the U.S. was not partisan.
“We support an open and democratic process; we do not support one political party or candidate over another,” he said.
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