Cambodia, China boost ties amid power transfer in Phnom Penh

Bangkok, Aug 13 (EFE).- China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday met in Phnom Penh with incoming Cambodian leader Hun Manet during the first visit by a head of diplomacy to the Southeast Asian country since the general election and amid a transfer of power.

Hun Manet, who is expected to formally take office on Aug. 22, met Wang during the meeting between his father — outgoing Prime Minister Hun Sen — and the Chinese diplomat at the Peace Palace.

Wang stressed China’s support for the new Cambodian government with which it is willing to continue cooperating for the sake of the country’s development, the state-owned Agence Kampuchea Press (AKP) reported.

China and Cambodia have a close historical relationship that has been further strengthened in recent years with investments in various infrastructure projects financed by Beijing.

This relationship has raised concern among countries such as the United States and Australia, especially as a result of the alleged help that China provides to the Southeast Asian country for the reform and renovation of a coastal military base, which Washington suspects will be frequented by Chinese warships.

Wang, who ends his tour that has also taken him to Singapore and Malaysia on Sunday, also held working meetings in Phnom Penh with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, and with other representatives of the current and incoming Cambodian government.

China, which recognized the results of Cambodia’s July 23 general election, which was widely slammed by Western countries and rights groups, congratulated Phnom Penh on its “successful” vote and seeks to continue cooperating on a wide range of bilateral issues, reported Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), headed by Hun Sen, obtained 82.3 percent of the votes in the election, which was criticized as not very free and not very transparent by electoral watchdogs.

Many countries and agencies such as the US, the United Nations and the European Union criticized the poll for lacking a credible opposition due to the Candlelight Party being barred from running, and the censorship of independent media and the harassment and jailing of dissidents, among other reasons.

Following his victory, Hun Sen, 71, who came to power in Cambodia in 1985, announced his retirement on July 26 and the transfer of power to his eldest son, a four-star general trained at the US Military Academy at West Point.

New to politics, army commander Hun Manet, 45, has recently carved out a public image of a statesman closely linked to the legacy of his father and led the ruling CPP list in Phnom Penh in the election.

It is expected that with the power transition from father to son, a new generation of Cambodian politicians, many of them children and relatives of current representatives, will also enter the political arena in key ministry posts. EFE


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