China and Cambodia signed several bilateral agreements Wednesday and vowed to boost trade between the two countries, as China pledged more than $200 million in loans and aid to Phnom Penh, Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.
Speaking at a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khieu Kanharith said Prime Minister Hun Sen met for an hour with Jia Qinglin, chairman of China’s legislative body who was part of a delegation that arrived in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
“[Jia Qinglin’s] visit could strengthen the ties of friendship, cooperation and diplomacy between Cambodia and China,” Khieu Kanharith said, adding that the countries had signed agreements on trade, loans, health and education.
Cambodia and China intend to raise bilateral trade to $1 billion by the year 2010 and support the investment by Chinese firms in Cambodia, he said, adding that China will also remove tariffs on 418 Cambodian products.
In addition, Jia Qinglin announced a loan of $200 million for the construction of roads from Kompong Thom to Preah Vihear and from Mondolkiri to Ratanakkiri, Khieu Kanharith said. China will also donate about $7.3 million to Cambodia and provide a loan of the same amount with no interest. The use of the money has not been determined, Khieu Kanharith said. China will also finance the construction of five new Senate buildings.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen said that grants or loans from China could help Cambodia be free from political pressure from numerous countries,” Khieu Kanharith added.
Qian Hai, spokesman of the Chinese Embassy, declined to comment Wednesday and did not respond to e-mails.
“The growth of China-Cambodia relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples, but also peace, stability and development,” Jia Qinglin said in a statement upon arrival in Cambodia on Tuesday, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.(Additional reporting by Isabelle Roughol)