Cambodia-China friendship like a flower that never withers: Cambodian politician

By Zhao Yipu, People’s Daily

In a compound that carries distinctive local features in downtown Phnom Penh, Cambodia, there is a two-story building surrounded by Saraca dives. It is the headquarters of the Cambodia-China Friendship Association (CCFA).

Ek Sam Ol, a member of the standing committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), serves as the president of the CCFA.

In a recent interview, Ek Sam Ol told People’s Daily that Cambodia and China are sincere friends, and their friendship, tested by the times and a changing international landscape, has become even firmer, like a flower that never withers.

He told People’s Daily that the CCFA headquarters building was once a residence of Cambodian King Father Norodom Sihanouk, an old friend of the Chinese people, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen later decided to transform the palace into an office building of the CCFA.

“We are grateful to the former leaders of the two countries for forging a close friendship between the two peoples, and hope that the CCFA can become a bridge for the friendly exchanges between the Chinese and the Cambodians,” Ek Sam Ol said.

On the desk in Ek Sam Ol’s office, there are five volumes of the book “Xi Jinping: The Governance of China”, including volumes one, two, and three in English, and volumes one and two in Cambodian.
Ek Sam Ol treasures the books very much. The pages of them are covered with a mass of notes.

“I’ve read many articles in the books for times,” he said, adding that he could find in the books why and how the Communist Party of China (CPC), leading the Chinese people, has made remarkable achievements in politics, economy, science, and livelihood over the past decade.

The Cambodian politician has paid a number of visits to China, where he witnessed the country’s development in various aspects. He said he was deeply impressed by the vitality and prosperity he saw in China, especially the wide roads and new houses built in villages that were once stricken by poverty.

“The CPC has brought a complete change to China, which once was weak and poor, and significantly improved the living standards of the Chinese people. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the country has won the decisive battle against poverty and built a moderately prosperous society in all respects on schedule,” he said, adding that the people-centered approach the CPC follows exactly explains why the Chinese political party has made such huge achievements.

Ek Sam Ol also serves as the head of the central supervisory committee of the CPP. He said the CPC has led the Chinese people to achieve inspiring progress and set an example for party construction in developing countries.

“We’ve always been learning the CPC’s experiences in fighting corruption it has gained after the 18th CPC National Congress,” Ek Sam Ol told People’s Daily.

He said Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, requests CPC members to “watch from the mirror, groom oneself, take a bath and seek remedies,” and takes it as general guidance in the CPC’s campaign to educate Party members about the mass line.

Later, “watch from the mirror, groom oneself, take a bath and seek remedies” was incorporated in the work report of the CPP. The CPC stresses cracking down on high-ranking “tigers” as well as lower-level “flies” involved in corruption, and the CPP requires to catch both “big fish” and “small fish” in its anti-corruption campaign.

Ek Sam Ol, a member of the standing committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), serves as the president of the CCFA. (Photo by Zhao Yipu/People’s Daily)

In recent years, China and Cambodia have seen positive progress in economic and trade cooperation. As the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) develops, the China-Cambodia community with a shared future is being constantly solidified.

He said Cambodia is lucky to have “boarded the fast train” of China’s development and learned from China’s development experiences, adding the BRI has ushered in a “golden era” for his country.

Thanks to the power plants and power grids China constructed in Cambodia, electricity is now available in 98 percent of Cambodia’s rural areas. So far, China has built over 3,000 kilometers of highways and eight friendship bridges in Cambodia.

BRI projects are very welcomed by the Cambodian people, Ek Sam Ol said.

“Over the past six decades since the two countries established diplomatic ties, China has always offered selfless assistance for the Cambodia government and people, playing an important role in Cambodia’s economic and social development,” Ek Sam Ol noted.

On the same day as the interview, an anti-pandemic medical team from China arrived in Phnom Penh. The team not only offers medical services but also trains Cambodian medical staff.

“The Chinese government has dispatched many medical teams to Cambodia, and they have cured a large number of patients. The Cambodian people are sincerely grateful to the Chinese medical teams,” Ek Sam Ol said.

The Cambodian politician said he has been paying close attention to the 20th CPC National Congress to be held later this year and is expecting to read relevant reports at the earliest time possible.

“With the successful experience of achieving the first centenary goal, the Chinese people will definitely reach the goal of fully building a modern socialist country under the strong leadership of the CPC,” Ek Sam Ol remarked.

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