Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said he has no doubt that the Sino-Cambodian ties will be closer and stronger in the future thanks to the greater cooperation under China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), the recently-signed Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade pact.

“I’m proud to say that despite the impact of the COVID-19, many bilateral cooperation projects under the BRI such as the first Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, the new national stadium, the 700-megawatt power plant in Sihanoukville, among others, have progressed steadily,” he said.

“These projects bring us tremendous benefits, helping us boost the economy and reduce poverty during and after the COVID-19 era,” he said.

Siphan said the BRI is becoming the new engine of global economic growth, and that since its inception in 2013, it has importantly contributed to boosting regional and global cooperation in terms of hard and soft infrastructures, economy, trades, investment opportunities, cultural exchange, and people-to-people connectivity.

“At the time of this economic downturn, the BRI remains as a driving force to continue expanding cooperation among countries in the region and the world for the cause of peace, security, prosperity and sustainable development,” he said.

Cambodia highly commends China on the joint fight against COVID-19, Siphan said, and the Southeast Asian nation greatly values China’s assistance. He said that the cooperation between the two countries should be a role model for international cooperation.

“For Cambodia, China is our key COVID-19 vaccine provider.”

He added that the kingdom began an inoculation drive on Feb. 10 and to date, more than 3.5 million out of the 10 million targeted adult population have been vaccinated.

“As Prime Minister Hun Sen has said, we’re going to inoculate 10 million targeted adult population by the end of this year or early next year, so thank you very much China for donating and selling vaccines to us. Without you, we would not have enough vaccines to vaccinate our people,” Siphan said.

He said the Cambodia-China joint COVID-19 fight will undoubtedly contribute to building a community of shared future between the two countries.

Siphan also urged not to politicise the COVID-19 pandemic but do their best to safeguard their own people’s lives, as some countries are playing the blame game over it.

“The COVID-19 is a global health crisis, so we don’t need to point the finger at each other, but it’s time for all of us to stand together to fight against the pandemic,” he said. “Some countries have wasted time to blame this or that country. This is an irresponsible act for their own citizens.”