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Siem Reap to Cooperate With Chinese City

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with Chinese officials Monday to establish a bilateral relationship between Siem Reap and the southwestern Chinese city Chongqing.

“His Excellency welcomes the friendship between Siem Reap province and Chongqing,” said Hem Heng, a ministry spokesman. “The tourists between both countries have increased each day, and he informed his host about economic development of Cambodia and emphasized that these developments could not be detached from the contributions of China.”

The agreement was made between Hor Namhong and Zhang Xuan, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party.

Chinese officials said Chongqing is known for its development of tourism and industry, including chemical manufacturing and automobile assembly.

Cambodia has a strong historical relationship with China, much of it through former king Norodom Sihanouk, who retains a residence there.

Recently Prey Veng province established cooperative ties with Guangxi province, which borders Vietnam.

Opposition officials warned against the government getting too close to China.

“China has big economic development, and it is seeking cooperation with Cambodia in mine exploration and agriculture,” said Mu Sochua, deputy secretary of the Sam Rainsy Party. “Cambodia has to be independent in this alliance, and Cambodia must think about democracy and human rights.”

China has come under pressure in recent weeks to improve its human rights record ahead of the Olympic games, which will be hosted by Beijing later this year.

Beijing has shown marked investments in Cambodian cooperation, through the construction of infrastructure and a donor package of $91 million in 2006.