China’s environment deputy minister, Zhao Yingmin, is due to pay a visit to Cambodia to sign a number of agreements focusing on clean water production, according to the Ministry of Environment.
Zhao’s visit comes after a visit to the country by Wei Fenghe, Chinese defense minister, where he signed off on some $100 million worth of military deals with Phnom Penh.
During Zhao’s visit he will meet senior officials, signing agreements to establish an environmental cooperation office in Phnom Penh and cooperation on biodiversity.
Say Sam Al, environment minister, declined to comment, referring questions to a spokesman, who could not be reached.
Alejandro Gonzalez Davidson, the co-founder of Mother Nature, an activist network that had its NGO status rescinded after years of campaigning against a large Chinese development project, the Areng hydropower project, that it argued would be devastating to the environment in Koh Kong province, said China’s poor record on the environment did not bode well for the future of such an agreement.
He added that while China had made some progress domestically in protecting national parks where pandas live, it had failed miserably in other areas and in its responsibilities in Southeast Asia, where it invests in large-scale development projects.
“Any hydro-power involved by Chinese companies, those places will experience systematic deforestation, which the government of Mr. Hun Sen couldn’t curb it or it joined to destroy,” he said.
Officials at the Chinese embassy in Cambodia could not be reached for comment immediately on Tuesday.
Cambodia and China celebrated the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries on Monday. At a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen praised China, which has become a key ally of Cambodia as western powers have distanced themselves from Phnom Penh over the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s crackdown on the opposition and civil society.
Hun Sen said China “respects the sovereignty of Cambodia” and helped in “defending security and social stability”.