China’s Shaanxi provincial Government hopes to see more cooperation with Cambodia in terms of businesses and trade, said Zhang Xiaodong, the deputy director of Shaanxi’s foreign affairs information division office.

The ambition was expressed last Friday following Cambodia’s establishment of a business representative office in the province, which has a population of 38 million.

In May, more than 100 Cambodian officials attended the fourth Silk Road International Exposition in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province.

Shaanxi’s provincial department of commerce deputy director Shi Zhijun said the Shaanxi government should hold more economic and trade events in order to educate Chinese companies about Cambodia’s investment laws.

“We need to exchange frequent visits between senior officials from Shaanxi and Cambodia to promote cooperation and reciprocate information,” he said.

Focusing on Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, Shaanxi is building an exchange mechanism to support enterprises in conducting multilateral and bilateral economic and trade cooperation, look for investment opportunities and expand the market, Shi Zhijung said.

Dr Ying Fan, from the School of International Economics at the Chinese Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said Cambodia is a crucial partner for China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“China wants to forge good relationships with all countries in the world. This is part of our national make-up and the personality of the Chinese people,” she said.

Kin Phea, the Director General of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said during the event in Shaanxi last week that while China had strong geopolitical influence in the region and the world, the country also faces strong criticism over “debt traps”.

“If China’s cooperation with Cambodia does not improve the Kingdom, it will not become an example for other countries,” he said, adding that countries such as Sri Lanka and some in Africa are regarded as places to have fallen into China’s debt trap.

During a visit to China on May 30, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn and China state adviser Wang Yi pledged that both countries would attempt to ensure the success of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Sokhonn said China would encourage Chinese companies to increasingly invest in Cambodia and enlarge the Chinese market place for Cambodian products.