For­eign min­is­ter calls for closer Cam­bo­dia re­la­tions

An­a­lysts: Visit shows im­por­tance Bei­jing at­taches to bi­lat­eral ties with South­east Asian coun­try

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHOU WA zhouwa@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi met Cam­bo­dian lead­ers to dis­cuss closer bi­lat­eral ties on Wed­nes­day dur­ing a whirl­wind visit to the coun­try, mark­ing China’s lat­est ef­fort to boost co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bor­ing South­east Asian na­tions.

The pur­pose of the 14-hour visit was to strengthen the com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship and to em­pha­size China’s in­ten­tion to pro­mote bi­lat­eral ties, Wang told Cam­bo­dian Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen.

Wang, on his first visit to Cam­bo­dia since its gen­eral elec­tion in July, also con­grat­u­lated Hun Sen, who won the elec­tion, and said he hoped that Cam­bo­dia’s po­lit­i­cal par­ties will peace­fully re­solve their re­main­ing elec­toral is­sues.

The prime min­is­ter’s party — the Cam­bo­dian Peo­ple’s Party — won the elec­tion with more than half the votes, but the main op­po­si­tion party re­jected the re­sult. Cam­bo­dia’s National Elec­tion Com­mit­tee is still dis­cussing the case and will of­fi­cially an­nounce the elec­tion re­sults on Sept 8.

Wang’s visit shows that China val­ues peace and sta­bil­ity in Cam­bo­dia, which is in line with the in­ter­ests of all re­gional play­ers, an­a­lysts said.

“China does not want to in­ter­fere with Cam­bo­dian in­ter­nal af­fairs such as the elec­tion, but Wang’s visit will ex­ert a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on the coun­try’s sit­u­a­tion af­ter the elec­tion”, said Xu Lip­ing, a re­searcher on Asia-Pa­cific stud­ies at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences.

Wang paid vis­its to South­east Asian coun­tries at the be­gin­ning of Au­gust, when Cam­bo­dia was busy with its elec­tion.

Wang’s visit af­ter the elec­tion shows the great im­por­tance China at­taches to bi­lat­eral ties, Xu said.

Con­tentious claims on the elec­tion re­sults could bring in­sta­bil­ity to the coun­try, and the price would be too high, said Song Yinghui, a re­searcher on South­east Asian stud­ies at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions.

But as an ex­pe­ri­enced states­man, Hun Sen is ca­pa­ble of han­dling the sit­u­a­tion and find­ing a peace­ful so­lu­tion, she said.

China at­taches in­creased im­por­tance to the neigh­bor­ing South­east Asian coun­tries since the new lead­er­ship took of­fice in March. As China’s new for­eign min­is­ter, Wang paid four vis­its to seven re­gional coun­tries in the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions.

In Brunei, economics min­is­ters from 10 ASEAN coun­tries is­sued a state­ment on Wed­nes­day say­ing that they ap­pre­ci­ate China’s pro­posal to cre­ate an up­graded free trade agree­ment, and that ASEAN “wel­comes the in­tent for the over­all en­hance­ment of the ASEAN- China Free Trade Area”.

They made the re­marks dur­ing a fo­rum at which economics min­is­ters from China and ASEAN mem­bers held dis­cus­sions on re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

The min­is­ters ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the ACFTA Joint Com­mit­tee’s on­go­ing ef­forts in up­grad­ing the ACFTA agree­ments to en­sure that it re­mains dy­namic.

With ob­jec­tives of the ACFTA al­most re­al­ized, ef­forts should now be di­rected to­ward fa­cil­i­tat­ing ASEANChina trade and im­prov­ing ACFTA through the on­go­ing re­view of the sen­si­tive lists and rules of ori­gin, the min­is­ters said. Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this story.

TANG CH­HIN SOTHY / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi (left) meets Cam­bo­dian Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Wed­nes­day. Wang Yi ar­rived in Cam­bo­dia on Tues­day for an of­fi­cial visit.

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