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Chinese Arrive With Millions in Aid

Cambodia has put prime importance on Chinese financial assistance, which releases it from some international pressure, Prime Minister Hun Sen told a Chinese delegation Wednesday.

“Loans or grants from China have released Cambodia from certain kinds of political pressure from international countries,” a government spokesman said, quoting Hun Sen’s address to a delegation led by Chinese National Committee Chairman Jia Qingling.

The delegation, arriving late Tuesday and preceding an annual donor meeting by two days, signed over $200 million in aid that was promised at a summit in October and has been earmarked for the construction of a road from Preah Vihear province to Kampong Thom province.

The delegation also announced Wednesday nearly $14 million in further aid.

In exchange, Jia called on Phnom Penh to support and protect Chinese investments and to encourage bilateral cooperation in oil exploration and the mining of iron ore, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.

China has emerged as a major donor to Cambodia, providing grants, loans, donations, such as ambulances and construction equipment, and military cooperation.

Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu arrived in Cambodia Sunday, promising $300,000 to police and security forces.

China also pledged $91 million in aid at the donor meeting in 2007, making it Cambodia’s third-largest donor, ahead of the US.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday the more friends Cambodia had beyond those who share its borders, the better.

“Then, if we rely on China to prevent invasion from neighboring countries, it’s a good thing, to protect territorial integrity and national sovereignty,” he said.