Chea Sim Returns From Trip to China

Senate President Chea Sim, who is also president of the ruling CPP, re­turned Monday to Phnom Penh after a one-week visit to China.

Chea Sim did not speak about his trip when he arrived at Po­chentong Airport, but his spokes­man said the visit “successful and positive.”

In a signing ceremony in Bei­jing, China promised to give Cam­bodia almost $61,000 to repair and renovate the Senate building, said spokesman Kunthea Borei Math Ly Ruon. China has been the top donor for renovations and other gifts to the Cambodian Senate.

Chea Sim met high-ranking Chi­nese lawmakers, Communist Party officials and other leaders, including President Jiang Zemin, who visited Cambodia in No­vember. In February, Chinese De­fense Minister Chi Haotian came to town for a five-day visit and pledged $3.7 million in military aid.

Chea Sim saw King Norodom Sihanouk in Beijing, where the King is having a medical check-up and is scheduled to return to Cambodia before the end of next week, in time for the Khmer New Year.

Chea Sim also visited Shang­hai and paid a courtesy call on that city’s mayor.

He was accompanied by a senator from each of the three parties represented in the Senate—the CPP, Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party.

Chea Sim’s visit highlights Cambodia’s increasingly strong ties to China, which is a major bilateral donor and investor here. Political analysts have said the close relationship allows China to have a foothold in Southeast Asia while Cambodia gains an ally that can use its power to help Cam­bodia in the international arena.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is planning a trip to China later this year, but no date has been scheduled yet, according to adviser Om Yentieng.

He said the visit will be aimed at strengthening the friendship and economic ties between Cam­bodia and China.

(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann)


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