BEIJING (AFP): Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, looking to build on the close ties his father Hun Sen built with Beijing.
Hun Sen ruled Cambodia with an iron fist for almost four decades, and handed over the premiership to his son in August.
Under his government, Cambodia became one of Beijing's strongest allies in Southeast Asia, receiving huge sums of Chinese investment.
At Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Friday, Xi said Hun Sen had made "historic contributions to the cause of Sino-Cambodian friendship", and urged him to visit China often, according to a readout of his meeting with Hun Manet from state broadcaster CCTV.
Xi said he believed Hun Manet's visit would help promote ties between the two countries "in a deeper and more practical way".
Hun Manet's visit to China is one of his first trips abroad since becoming prime minister.
He is also expected to hold talks with Premier Li Qiang and Zhao Leji, head of the Standing Committee of China's top lawmaking body, his spokesperson Meas Sophorn told the press at Phnom Penh International Airport.
Hun Manet will then travel to the southern city of Nanning to attend the 20th Asean-China Expo.
China's defence ministry announced Thursday that joint military drills with Cambodia aimed at enhancing medical cooperation would be held this month.
Despite formally handing over the prime minister's office, Hun Sen has made it clear that he intends to wield influence after he steps down, scotching the notion that Cambodia could change direction under his son.
Meanwhile, The leaders of China and Zambia announced an upgrading of their relationship to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership on Friday, as the world's second-largest economy forges deeper ties with the Global South.
The development followed Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet earlier the same day. It also came two days after China and Venezuela elevated their ties to an "all-weather” partnership during a state visit by President Nicolás Maduro.
The trio of visiting leaders from Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America speak to China’s growing role in those parts of the world. State banks have financed roads and other infrastructure projects and Chinese companies have built factories, mines, hotels and casinos.
China has in turn won access to natural resources and diplomatic support from many Global South countries on contentious votes at the UN. and from Cambodia in China’s territorial disputes with other Southeast Asian nations in the South China Sea. - AFP