PHNOM PENH —
The Chinese ambassador on Tuesday thanked Cambodia for its stance on the South China Sea dispute.
“Not only the government of China, but also millions of our people appreciated Prime Minister Hun Sen’s stance,” Bu Jianguo said.
In July, Cambodia agreed to an additional $600 million in aid and loans from China, reportedly in exchange for diplomatic support over the South China Sea issue.
However, Bu said that the money was unconnected to its disputes with other Southeast Asian nations.
“China wishes to support Cambodia for positive economic growth,” he said.
Ou Virak, founder of the Future Forum think tank, said Cambodia should stay neutral in over the South China Sea.
“It could make Cambodia become alone in the future and we will gradually entirely depend on China [if we support them in the disputes],” he said.
Kung Phoakk, president of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, said it was possible that there had been an alignment of interests, rather than a clandestine agreement.
“If they [China] appreciate and support Cambodia, then that’s their choice,” he said.
On Monday, Wang Ti, the Chinese foreign minister, praised Cambodia for not issuing a statement in the wake of an international arbitration court ruling that went against China.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Cambodia would not interfere in the internal affairs of other Asean states, or the relationship between China and Asean, by taking sides in the row.