The Chinese government thinks Cambodia should run any Khmer Rouge trial by itself, and that China has no reason to apologize for its support of the murderous regime.
Furthermore, a spokesman said, China thinks Cambodia agrees—as shown by its enthusiastic welcome for Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s historic visit Monday.
“Today, you have seen with your own eyes the people welcoming President Jiang Zemin,” Zhu Bangzoa, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China, said Monday night.
The Cambodian government, he said, is grateful to China for its support. Flag-waving Cambodians appeared to agree.
Zhu Bangzoa spoke with reporters after Jiang Zemin spent the day meeting with Cambodian leaders, from King Norodom Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen to Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranarridh. The meetings produced a “complete consensus” on the value and strength of the ties between the two countries, he said.
Zhu Bangzoa did not discuss the Khmer Rouge until reporters asked him questions, but then answered directly.
The issue has not been discussed between the two governments because China does not intervene in the internal policies of other nations, he insisted.
Asked if China has pressured Cambodia to resist an international Khmer Rouge trial, he said, “China has exerted no pressure whatever” and would not try to influence any country.
And China need not apologize for its support of the Khmer Rouge, he said, because the “wrong policies” that harmed and killed so many Cambodians were made by “the Khmer Rouge leadership, and we never supported the wrong policies.”
Zhu Bangzoa said the two governments Monday signed seven agreements on agriculture, trade and fighting crime, including a trade-and-cooperation deal worth $12 million.
Government officials had spared no effort to have the city looking its best for the historic visit.
Thousands of school children, factory workers and civil servants brandished bright Cambodian and Chinese flags along Jiang’s 11-km route from Pochentong Airport to the Royal Palace, where he will be the guest of King Norodom Sihanouk.
Long banners representing both countries rippled from poles on major city thoroughfares. Estimates of the crowd ranged from 100,000 to 200,000; many waved large color portraits of the Chinese leader, his wife Wang Yeping, the King and Queen Norodom Monineath.
Security was tight, with at least 6,000 municipal and military police mobilized to control crowds.
Hor Namhong, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said China is the most powerful country in the region and could one day be the strongest in the world.
“The special relationship between the two countries will ensure Cambodia sovereignty, independence and national integrity,” he said.
In a glittering welcome ceremony at the airport, the King and Queen joined Hun Sen, his wife Bun Rany, the government’s top officials and the diplomatic corps.
Onlookers said it was the biggest state welcome in recent memory, and a clear indication of how much Cambodia values its relationship with the dominant power in the region.
Several thousand officials, government employees, soldiers, police and businessmen were on hand along with Khmer musicians, classical dancers and a resplendent honor guard in golden silk.
Yum Sui Sang, the chairman of the China, Hong Kong & Macau Business Association of Cambodia, was one of 12 association members in matching green jackets and ties who joined more than 50 businessmen at the invitation of the Chinese Embassy.
He said Jiang Zemin’s visit will encourage Chinese investors as Cambodia’s economy matures. The garment industry is already fully developed and now investors are turning toward tourism and agriculture, he said.
After Jiang was greeted by officials and a dancing troupe, he was led by heavy security to his waiting car. Waiting for him there were about 500 students from the Duon Hoa School.
“Long live the Republic of China,” they chanted together in Chinese. “Long live Chinese-Cambodian friendship. Long live the Kingdom of Cambodia. Welcome Chairman Jiang.”
Across town at the Independence Monument, other Chinese students waited while a Chinese troupe performed a lion dance.
“I’m happy to see the president visiting Cambodia, because China is one of the powerful countries of the world,” said Chin Hong, leader of the troupe and a member of the Hai Nan Association.
Jiang Zemin and the King will fly this morning to Siem Reap, where they will tour the Angkor temples before Jiang leaves for Brunei and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.
(Reporting by Yuko Maeda, Ana Nov, Brian Calvert and Kay Kimsong, and written by Jody McPhillips)