China and Cambodia on Monday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in Phnom Penh, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attending the signing ceremony.
Hun Sen spoke highly of the FTA, the first such deal between Cambodia and a foreign state, saying that it is of great significance economically and politically. He also expressed his confidence in Cambodia's achieving better development through friendly cooperation with China.
Wang, who is paying a two-day visit to the country, said the FTA has sent a strong signal and will help Cambodia overcome the difficulties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will promote socio-economic development in the Southeast Asian nation, said Wang.
During his meeting with Hun Sen, Wang said selecting Cambodia as the first stop on his Southeast Asia tour not only reflects China and Cambodia's fine tradition of always supporting each other but also demonstrates the positive momentum of building a community with a shared future between the two countries.
China is willing to work with Cambodia to discuss how to deal with various challenges in the post-pandemic era and further strengthen the all-round cooperation between the two countries, Wang said.
"China appreciates the Cambodian government's effective control of the pandemic and its contributions to the global fight against the virus. Cambodia firmly safeguards the common interests of developing countries and the basic norms of international relations," Wang said. "No matter how the international situation changes, China will stand firmly with Cambodia."
Hun Sen said the Cambodian side highly appreciates China's help in dealing with the pandemic and promoting economic and social development in Cambodia.
China has made tremendous achievements in fighting the virus, setting an example for the global fight against COVID-19, the prime minister said.
The Cambodian side is firmly committed to strengthening the Cambodia-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, will continue to firmly support China on issues involving China's core interests and is willing to work with China to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, Hun Sen said.
In a separate meeting, Wang and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn agreed to further enhance cooperation and establish fast-track and green channels for personnel and logistics between two countries.
Wang said Beijing stands ready to work with Cambodia to step up coordination to ensure the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year, conduct cooperation in fields of the blue economy and data security, among others, and help lift China-ASEAN relations to a higher level.
China will continue to help Cambodia fight the pandemic and provide China-developed COVID-19 vaccines on a priority basis when ready and available for use, he continued.
Prak Sokhonn said this year marks the 10th anniversary of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation and that Cambodia attaches great importance to ties with China.
He said his country wants to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields including the coronavirus, and will continue to work with China to safeguard common interests and maintain regional and international peace and stability.