China is standing by Cambodia.
That was the message from a senior Chinese official, Chen Changzhi, who visited Phnom Penh this week, where he met Heng Samrin, head of Cambodia’s National Assembly.
Chen is vice chairman of the National People’s Congress’s standing committee and was in town to ensure the bilateral relationship between the two countries remained in the “best condition ever”, according to spokesman Keo Piseth.
Piseth said Chen told Samrin that “the two countries have faith in each other and support each other on the international stage.”
Chen also pledged that China would continue to extend loans to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, provide development aid and encourage investment.
Samrin reportedly responded by praising China’s support for Cambodia and promising to “unwavering follow the one China policy”.
Meas Ny, a social development researcher, said both countries need one another. Cambodia relies heavily on China to underwrite its economy with financial support not tied to human rights improvements, while China, he said, needed Cambodia to support it in Asean on issues such as the South China Sea dispute.
Most Chinese investment, he added, has focused on the agriculture and extractive industries, which often has a negative impact on people’s livelihoods.