Selected Speech Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Handover Ceremony of “Morodok Techo National Sports Complex/Stadium” – a Grant Aid from the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Cambodia [Unofficial Translation]

HE Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China

Excellencies, Ladies, Lok Chumteavs

A New Record Breaking in the Cambodia-China Strong-as-Steel Relation

Today, I am very pleased to join HE Wang Yi in the handing over ceremony of the sports complex “Morodok Techo National Stadium,” a grant from the People’s Republic of China. We had just listened to His Excellency Thong Khon’s report as well as the speech of His Excellency Wang Yi (State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China). (These achievements) came to existence thanks to the efforts made in the relationship between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the People’s Republic of China. Today is another new record of strong as steel relations between Cambodia and China, from which we received an unexpected grant that even until in 2000 or 20 years ago we did not expect to have such a wonderful and large stadium here.

No SEA Games for Socio-Economic Infrastructural Needs

… I have already said several times and I myself have asked for understanding from other ASEAN partners who (all) host the SEA Games every two years (that) we Cambodia had not yet been able to do hosting of sports event. We seek the understanding of friends within the framework of ASEAN, as we have the necessary need to build the infrastructure to serve much needed economic and social development. As I began to build good relations with trusted partners, within the framework of the Cambodia-China comprehensive strategic partnership, especially with His Excellency President Xi Jinping, we received signs of contributions for the construction of the infrastructure needed to serve the SEA Games. We then set and announced that we are ready to host the 2023 SEA Games.

… Today we hold a handover ceremony. The official inauguration will take place later. Previously, I thought (if) there were no Covid-19, I would have filled the stadium with people. However, due to (the need to) keep the safe distance required in the time of Covid-19, today we only meet more than 1,000 people. During the inauguration, I hope that we will be able to place more people so that the Cambodian people can see the achievements we have achieved through the fruits of the cooperation between Cambodia and the People’s Republic of China.

“Morodok Techo” Stadium, the Pride of the Whole Khmer Nation

Today, we are proud really. It is not just I, who initiated and sought out partners, especially with President Xi Jinping, for this magnificent achievement but it is the pride of the whole nation to receive such a generous regard from our friends. We build for our nation, for the well-being of the people, especially our youth and children. All this work required us to do together and, on this occasion, I would like to thank the companies, engineers as well as professionals who have worked hard to build this stadium. I still remember that when the construction site of this stadium opened on April 4, 2017, it was my birthday. We meet in the morning here and then, in the evening, we – the sportsmen/women and I – (had) dinner together. I may have the attention of His Excellency Wang Yi that every year I meet with the sportsmen/women. I have meetings with artists, Islam community, etc. every year […] unfortunately, from 2020-2021, we have not been able to do so.

“Morodok Techo” Stadium, Grant, People’s Republic of China

For all the work, I take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to Ambassador Wang Wentian, after His Excellency Xiong Bo, now the Chinese Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, who has always been here. I would also like to thank Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, His Excellency Thong Khon, as well as his Cambodian counterparts for their constant consultation and monitoring of construction progress here […] the coordination between the Cambodian and Chinese partners went smoothly through the Cambodian and Chinese representatives, with Ambassador Wang Wentian here. The achievement scored today is not by any coincidence. His Excellency Thong Khon misread that 1.1 billion yen is equivalent to 50 million US dollars. It is actually $150 million. This achievement, even myself in 2000, I never imagined that we could have scored such an achievement. Under the grant of the People’s Republic of China, we have the opportunity to see it in reality. Today is just a handover ceremony under the presidency of the Prime Minister of Cambodia and State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, but we will hold another inauguration ceremony in the hope that senior Chinese leaders will attend the celebration of this wonderful achievement coming from the efforts and fruits of the friendship between Cambodia and China.

Reaping Early Harvest from Strong-as-Steel Relation

I can assume that this is just the beginning of the early harvest of the strong-as-steel friendship that President Xi Jinping called it. Why do I say it is early harvest? We are not in contact with China just for today or tomorrow after receiving this stadium. We have to be friends with China for many years to come. By now, we should remember our father, our grandfather, our great-grandfather, His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk, who built relations with the People’s Republic of China from the first meeting between His Majesty the King, at that time he was the Cambodian head of state, with former Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in Bandung. It sets out the beginning of a good relationship (between our two countries). Let it be clear that it was not a coincidence. Our national father pioneered (the path for us) with China’s early leaders.

HM the King and the Royal Government Pursue the One-China Policy

Cambodia has recognized the People’s Republic of China since China did not become a member of the United Nations. This is a point to remember. Previously, China was not a representative at the United Nations because there were two Chinas, and then King Norodom Sihanouk decided to recognize the People’s Republic of China, which did not have a seat at the United Nations. What does that mean? In other words, he has a long-term vision (that) for the future, it will definitely be the People’s Republic of China. It really happened. After his demise, his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni, as well as his descendants, including me, continue to pursue the one-China policy and maintain good relations.

From Trusted Friend to Comprehensive Strategic Partner, Steel-Like Friendship

Gradually, we have grown from trustworthy friends to comprehensive strategic partnerships. Next, President Xi Jinping himself called (this partnership) a (strong-as) steel friendship. I understand that a strong-as-steel friendship is a mutual trust that emphasizes all aspects of the strategic partnership. Many countries have a comprehensive strategic partnership or cooperation with China, but here, President Xi Jinping added the word “strong-as-steel friend.”

Take No Comforting, Fear No Threats, Respectful and Honest in relationships

I understand this (that) is the real political trust that never falters between the two parties, despite the pressure from this person, the pressure from that person, but we are not faltered by threats. We are not enticed by anyone’s comfort. We respect and are honest in this relationship. That is the foreign policy, in general, of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) that is leading a country with a political consensus in relations with the People’s Republic of China. Particularly, Hun Sen, the Prime Minister, is the main actor responsible for leading both domestic and foreign politics.

Ship-Shape Architecture Stadium Bears Historical, Present and Future Features

(Achievements) that we have achieved in this framework are not separate from the framework of bilateral cooperation that previously existed in the framework of comprehensive strategic partnership within the framework of ASEAN-China. More specifically, within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, I chose the ship-like architectural design of the stadium. There had been three (draft) options of architectural layout (for me to choose). Why did I choose the ship-shape (architectural design)? (It is) because it fits (the thinking) of the early period, combined with the vision and initiative of President Xi Jinping on the 21st century maritime silk road. We want everything to happen in line with the historical context and the present as well as the future.

If Not China, Who Helped Build Infrastructure and Provide Vaccines to Cambodia

… A few months ago, maybe more than half of Cambodians heard me say, “If I am not allowed to rely on China, who should I rely on?” This is not a joke, nor is it a word to pick on anyone. This is true. When HE Wang Wentian went with me to inaugurate the national road 55 connecting Pursat to the Cambodian-Thai border, I said – “who will play the role of China in building infrastructure in Cambodia?” Thousands of miles of roads, irrigation, electricity, and more. Who would take the replacing role, if China did not help? … When I was attending a conference on the Future of Asia, a facilitator asked if I were turning to China. I also answered honestly, not a counterattack, but a real meaning – “If I do not rely on China, who should I rely on?” My compatriots all over the country who are listening to about 20 live TVs and dozens of radio and online networks (may ponder here if) I was wrong to (make) contact with Chinese friends and score such a wonderful achievement today. This is just one of hundreds of accomplishments.

At the Greater Mekong Sub-region meeting the day before, I summed up that there have been over 2,000 kilometers of roads built connecting Cambodia within and connecting with neighboring countries. Surrounding our country are all roads that China helps. (We have built) bridges across the Mekong River, across the Tonle Sap, across the Bassac River. If there is no help from China, who can help? Even now, if China does not help, how many of us here can have vaccinated? Do not forget that our sportsmen/women and journalists, even, have already been vaccinated in the third dose. Without Chinese friends, ask if you have the vaccination. This is true. I hope that political analysts, whether in the country or abroad, Cambodians or foreigners, need to see a reality that has been happening, and will continue to happen in the future.

The Belt and Road Initiative – Theoretical and Financial Resource

For the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Belt and Road Initiative, China has put in place more than just theory. When I attended the meeting about the Belt and Road, I pointed out (that while launching the project) in theory and (there must be real) money. At that time, in my speech, I also said directly to President Xi Jinping, “There are many projects in the ASEAN framework, the Asian framework, but the problem lies in the lack of money.” (Obviously) this initiative came out with financial resource (commitment) to help serve development of poor countries, and we are one of the few countries that has benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative.

Reject No Aid from All Sources, Take No One as Enemy

… They should not talk about Cambodia biased against China, because Cambodia has never abandoned anyone’s aid and has never considered anyone an enemy. The problem is that there is no one to help. If I am not mistaken, without China to help provide and supply so far, Cambodia (would have) vaccine (that could at most) inject two million people. Let me tell you tonight, by the way, (the number of people who have been vaccinated) may reach 11.5 million, out of which number, 800,000 already have a third dose and 1.6 million children (already vaccinated). Globally, Cambodia is the only country in the world where there is vaccine to blanket people in the capital. Even in Beijing, I think they have not yet reached 99% of the population in their vaccination yet. One Australian newspaper reported the day before that because “Cambodia is close to China, Cambodia has the most vaccinations in its capital.” This is a true story, not fictional.

Should anyone see (the reception of such) achievement of 150 million USD in grant is wrong, I would them to raise to me their arguments. Now there is no shortage (of places to help). If (there are) other countries want (to help) build more sports venues for Cambodia, Cambodia still have 24 more provinces/cities that needed ones. Welcome to Cambodia. China has built seven bridges. It is in preparation for the eighth bridge. We are seeking loans. Many bridges are not there yet. Please join us to build bridges. Now the Republic of Korea is to build one. Cambodia does not deny. I am not taking this opportunity to talk about Cambodia’s foreign policy, but because of the reality, it is necessary for me to point out that such an achievement would not be possible without good relations with our Chinese friends.

Cambodia and China to Sign 250 Million USD Grant Aid

Let me tell you a little bit, we are now inaugurating an achievement that is worth 1,100 million Yuan (or 150 million USD), but soon HE Wang Yi and I will officiate the signing ceremony for the Chinese friend 1,750 million Yuan in grant aid, equivalent to about 250 million US dollars. This evening, HE Wang Yi will be with me. Maybe we will stay up a little late tonight because I heard that His Excellency brought a Maotai. This evening, after leaving here, we will meet and negotiate, then sign documents, and then we go to dinner together. We will have some chats there. You are leaving at 9 am tomorrow. I will not take my third dose of vaccine tomorrow because I know that tonight I will drink with you […]

Cambodia’s Foreign Policy of Peaceful Coexistence and Permanent Neutrality

This should be said because some people look at Cambodia in their wrong eyes. I would reiterate that Cambodia pursues a policy of peace, co-operation and permanent neutrality. We are friends with all countries. No one is our enemy except the terrorists. In practice, it depends on the problem, who dares to help us? The practice of foreign policy is not a joke. Be sure to be realistic. One cannot just take their turns left or right, west or east as one may think. Doing so will damage the interests of our nation. Frankly, what (we have achieved) with Cambodian-Chinese relations in the history of Cambodia and China is not something of late, but for centuries already. The most notable thing is the relationship built by His Majesty King Father Norodom Sihanouk with the previous generation of Chinese leaders, and continues to get strong this day with their successors.

A True Friend Is One Who Helps In Times of Need

I would like to take this opportunity, through His Excellency Wang Yi, to express his deep gratitude to the Chinese government and people, especially His Excellency Xi Jinping and His Excellency Li Keqiang for supporting projects for Cambodia’s development. Most notably recently, thank you in particular for reducing the deaths of Cambodians in the Covid-19 pandemic disaster. Although Cambodia has a high rate of infection, the mortality and morbidity rates are low because they have their vaccinations. Today, before coming here, an official from the Ministry of Information tested positive for Covid-19, but did not know he had it because he (is asymptomatic for he) had his vaccination […] that is why we allow people (with mild symptom) to be treated at home or at the mild quarantine and treatment center reducing stress on demand for hospital beds.

That is why we see that good friends are helping each other in emergency. If in an emergency, they run away from each other, how can they be friends with each other? Some slandered me when I visited Beijing during the Covid-19 outbreak. At that time, HE Wang Yi met me at the Beijing airport. We both did not even wear masks. I told His Excellency Xi Jinping, His Excellency Li Keqiang, and His Excellency Wang Yi who came to dinner together before I left for the night, “If I wear a mask, it is like sending a message of fear to the Cambodian people and also sending a message of fear to Cambodian students studying in China, including in Wuhan.” I even wanted to go to Wuhan to show Cambodia’s solidarity with our Chinese friends in times of emergency.

Making 1.4 Billion Friends

This attitude (that we have adopted) has had a response. When Cambodia needs China’s help, China did immediately. What a loss could it be to make friends with 1.4 billion people … how many countries and continents together to make this 1.4 billion people? Some continents have only 500 million people … for a population of 1.4 billion is no small matter. Our country has only 16 million people. We are too small and too little compared to the Chinese people. In the course of working with the Chinese leaders in the past, who previously were older than I was, now I am older than some Chinese leaders – His Excellency Xi Jinping is younger than I am; His Excellency Li Keqiang is also younger than I am; and HE Wang Yi is one year younger than I am. For the previous generation I worked with His Excellency Jiang Zemin, His Excellency Li Peng, then His Excellency Zhu Rongji as Prime Minister, followed by His Excellency Li Peng, then His Excellency Hu Jintao with His Excellency Wen Jiabao, then His Excellency Xi Jinping with His Excellency Li Keqiang.

Chinese Attitude Is Respectful to Small/Poor Countries and Younger Leaders

Although China is a big country and their leaders may be are older than we are, their mutual respect has been clear. (They) do not look at us as a small country, a poor country or a younger in age leaders. This is an attitude that I highly appreciate and show respect. Now His Majesty the King and HM the Queen Mother are examining their health in Beijing. This is a suitable place for the King and Luong Mae, who always had a medical check-up, and we asked our Chinese friends to help take care of the Their Majesties health. I talked too much, but because we are here together and you will meet no one else but me again, I can make it a bit long […]

Battlefield Becomes Development Zone … Nurture Win-win Policy and Peace

We have more works to do towards the inauguration and towards the 2023 SEA Games. I allowed His Excellency Sao Sokha, the president of the Football Federation, to bid for a foreign football projects in 2022 and to have their training here. Athletes assigned by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to regional competitions should come to their finals here to make the venue attractive. We now have homes building projects going by public-private partnerships. We allow the private sector to build homes for sportsmen/women. After the competition, the house will be on sale to the people […]

I also learned that some of our athletes are preparing for training in the People’s Republic of China. No one had ever imagined before this place would develop into a town with a five-star hotel not far from here, a swimming pool, a playground and an international multi-sports venue. Since the March 18, 1970 coup, the area had been a battleground. Even until 1989, this place was where they shelled into Phnom Penh. More than 90 years ago, this place is still an insecure place. His Excellency Thong Khon was then the Governor of Phnom Penh and I signed sub-decrees to carve out this area into the Phnom Penh city. The border between Kandal and Phnom Penh used to be at the foot of the Chroy Changva bridge. As the Prime Minister, I have already signed the land of Kandal province for Phnom Penh (including) this stadium (area). We have turned the former battlefield into a development zone. At this point, our hard-won peace and win-win policy must be maintained.

One Million USD from World Peace Medal to Build Houses for Veterans

This morning I attended a peace conference and received a medal, accompanied by a million dollars. I would like to take this opportunity to announce that the one million dollars, accompanied by the medals I received, will be for building homes for veterans. For a (previously) medal I got with an accompanying sum of 100,000 USD, I offered it to the Cultural Council to make use of it […] one million dollars can be used to build many houses for our veterans. Since a house would cost 4,000 dollars, we could build quite some for them […] we have works to do besides building […] making it happen is hard, but to ensure sustainability it is even harder. We must take good care to avoid damages […] please pay attention to this issue and try to learn from Chinese friends how to take care of it […]

Boost Jabs in October for Immunity, Reopening of Schools & Economy

I seem to be talking too much, but it is also a political message for the Cambodian people about the Cambodian-Chinese relationship and the benefits that Cambodia has gained from the good cooperation between the two countries. We also continue to welcome foreign friends who have donated to help us. I do not deny them. I would like to thank all the countries that have provided vaccines to Cambodia in the past through COVAX or bilaterally. This evening, I needed to talk to His Excellency Wang Yi more because I needed (more vaccines for) the third dose, which is now in the process of being injected, and this October we will launch the third dose campaign to maintain immunity in the community, and we are heading to reopen the school and the economy.

We need to do all that works because we have to learn to live with Covid-19. Now Covid-19 has destroyed the system left by our ancestors for millions of years. It requires us to sit at least one and a half meters apart, wear masks, and look at each other without knowing who is who. In the future, we also have to learn to play sports in the Covid-19 stage … We have to live with Covid-19 for many years to come. All sectors have suffered (impacts), perhaps only some traditional agriculture that does not change much. In the sports service industry, there are changes that require a new way of life.

Once again, we would like to thank the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China for its generous donations, which we held the handover ceremony today, and in the near future, which will have its inauguration for which I will be present with the Chinese leaders. We have some 600 workers, 469 security guards – 1,069 people in total. I give you 100,000 Riels each, and my staff has given the money to the Olympic Committee, which you will receive soon later. Finally, I wish the Cambodian-Chinese friendship to last forever. Blessings to Samdech, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, Ladies and Gentlemen the five Buddhist blessings./.