In the latest overture to Cambodia, China pledged $144 million in grants and no-interest loans Tuesday at the second meeting of the Cambodia-China Inter-governmental Coordination Committee, which was established last year to boost ties between the increasingly cozy countries.
At a press conference following the two-hour closed-door meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong noted that China is now Cambodia’s largest foreign benefactor.
“This donation is more than previous years,” Mr. Namhong told reporters. “As far as I know, China provides the most in donations compared to other countries.”
Mr. Namhong said he and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, the co-chairs of the committee, “double checked all our activities that we have carried out over the whole year, which have been very successful.”
Mr. Yang, who was China’s foreign minister from 2007 to 2013 and remains a top diplomat, said that Cambodia’s place within the Asean region made it an important strategic partner.
“Cambodia is a very active member of Asean and helps to improve China’s relations with Asean,” Mr. Yang said.
“Because our countries are good friends and real friends, that is why Cambodia has support from China in all sectors,” he added. “China will provide as much aid to Cambodia as it can.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, the Chinese delegation also said it would donate about 200 ambulances and additional medical equipment to rural areas where health facilities are lacking.
China has quickly increased its aid to and business ties with Cambodia in recent years, in what analysts say is a strategic necessity as the Asian superpower looks to establish a friend in the region.
Earlier this month, six pairs of Chinese and Cambodian companies signed off on business deals worth more than $1.5 billion.