CHINA says it is not counting on Cambodia’s diplomatic support after it pledged to provide the Southeast Asian nation with nearly US$600 million in aid to develop its election, education and health infrastructures last week.
The announcement of the substantial aid package came just days after an international tribunal invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
Cambodia is regarded as China’s strongest ally in Southeast Asia, and has refused to join its ASEAN neighbors in issuing a statement of support for the ruling.
However, China says the aid package is no way linked to its dispute with other Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, commenting on a recent Associated Press report about the donation that referenced the close relationship between the countries, said Thursday that China’s aid should not be hyped-up or viewed through “tinted glasses”.
“I wish to point out that assistance provided by China comes with no political conditions and is widely welcomed by the Cambodian people,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has accused a Cambodian newspaper of misrepresenting a conversation on the South China Sea ruling he had with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week.
The article reported that Abe told Hun Sen that he regarded the tribunal’s ruling as “final and binding”, calling it a “rebuke” of Cambodia’s position on the issue.
“It’s a bit sad that my meeting with Prime Minister Abe, between friends who have worked together, that a local newspaper in Phnom Penh… stated that Abe blamed Hun Sen,” said Hun Sen.
“I am tired of having my words twisted again and again by a number of people,” he added.
Last month, Cambodia deported 39 suspected criminals to China, including 25 Taiwanese, over whom Beijing insists it has jurisdiction despite protests from self-ruled Taipei.