The trip from Thursday will be Hun Manet’s first bilateral visit and one of his first overseas trips since becoming prime minister in August. He attended the gathering of Asean leaders in Jakarta last week.
“It reflects the great importance that the new Cambodian government attaches to the development of China-Cambodia relations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.
He also reaffirmed his government’s “unchanged position” on the one-China policy and non-interference in China’s internal affairs regarding Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
The strategic importance of Cambodia as an Asean member is likewise valued by China. Asean members such as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam contest parts of the South China Sea with China. There is no China-Cambodia territorial dispute over the region.
China is Cambodia’s biggest trading partner, with US$11.6 billion in trade between the two countries last year, according to Cambodia’s customs department.
It is also Cambodia’s largest lender, supplying loans to finance airports, roads and other infrastructure projects. Beijing owns 37 per cent of Phnom Penh’s US$10 billion in foreign loans, according to the latest figure by Cambodia’s Public Debt Statistical Bulletin.
Both countries denied the claim, with Beijing saying the project was aimed at improving the Cambodian navy’s capability and was in line with the laws of both countries.
Mao said that during this week’s trip to China Hun Manet would also meet and hold talks with Premier Li Qiang and chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, Zhao Leji.
“We hope to deliver on the cooperation initiatives … at an early date, and jointly usher in a new era of building a high quality, high level and high standard China-Cambodia community with a shared future,” she said.