Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Construction of a Bridge across the Mekong River from Chet Borey District to Prek Prosop District, Kratie Province [Unofficial Translation]


(1) The Longest Bridge Ever Built by China So Far

Today, we come together to inaugurate the groundwork for the construction of a bridge across the Mekong River, with the construction of 31 km of boulevards, under the funding of the People’s Republic of China and the counterpart funding of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The celebration took place just over 30 hours after we welcome the 2023 New Year. This achievement is the result of our joint efforts, especially the solidarity between Cambodia and China, as HE Wang Wentian just mentioned regarding the relationship between Cambodia and the People’s Republic of China. You may have remembered that in February last year, His Excellency Wang Wentian and I came to Kratie to inaugurate a section of the rehabilitation of National Road 7 that runs straight to Stung Treng, under the grant of the People’s Republic of China. Only 10 months later, from February until now, I came to Kratie again to launch the construction site for this longest bridge among the bridges that China has helped in the past – a great achievement for our people of Kratie.

(2) China helps build 4 bridges across the Mekong River, 1 over the Sekong River, 2 over the Tonle Sap River, and 3 over the Bassac River

As HE Sun Chanthol mentioned, in relation to the bridges that we have already built, with the help of the People’s Republic of China, there are four bridges across the Mekong River – the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge Stung Treng, the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge Prek Tamak, the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge Stung Trang-Kroach Chhma and the bridge that we are inaugurating the groundbreaking ceremony today – the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge in Kratie. We have the Sekong Bridge in Stung Treng province and along the Tonle Sap, we have two bridges – the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge at Prek Kadam and the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge at Chroy Changvar. Along the Bassac River, we have three bridges – the Cambodia-China Takhmao Friendship Bridge, the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge at Koh Thom, and the Cambodia-China Sitbo Bridge – which also connects to the Third Ring Road.

(3) Looking for a loan to build a bridge across the Bassac River in Chak Angre/Prek Pra, Phnom Penh

We are seeking credit to build another bridge across the Bassac River between Chak Angre and Prek Pra (in Phnom Penh). I still remember that 2018, 4 years ago, not 5 years ago, …  HE Xiong Bo, the Chinese Ambassador at that time, and I came to inaugurate officially here the Kratie University. I have confirmed to you in Kratie that we are seeking credit from a Chinese friend to build a bridge across the Mekong River in Kratie. Regarding what I was telling you at that time, today it is happening […] in this (pamphlet says the construction will take) 42 months. The Chinese friends always put a long time (for construction), but they actually finished the job in shorter time. Once it is ready, this bridge will be used by people living in Kratie province or those who have their interests in this area.

(4) China’s Belt and Road Initiative Brings Cambodia Benefits

[…] This point indicates the solidarity that I mentioned above, coupled with the speech by Ambassador Wang Wintien, which outlined our framework of friendship and the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative that Cambodia supported from the beginning and for which Cambodia can be considered a co-founder of this initiative. Cambodia has benefited greatly from the successful Belt and Road Initiative of China’s foreign policy and those who want to contribute to the development of their country and within the regional framework. This year marks the 65th anniversary of Cambodia-China friendly relations. I am looking forward to getting more assistance from China friends to build other necessary infrastructure projects […]

(5) Coordinating a Visit to China with New Project Proposals

[…] I look forward to the opportunity (to receive further assistance from China while) (we) are coordinating for my upcoming visit to the People’s Republic of China […] with more new projects, including the second expressway connecting Phnom Penh to the Vietnamese border […] where we will release USD 200 Million from our budget to build a bridge across the Mekong River […]; then, another expressway connecting the district of Lvea Em (in Kandal province) to the Vietnamese border […]; and I will be asking China to help build a road connecting from the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge at Sekong River in Stoeung Treng to the Lao border. I am asking Ambassador Wang Wintien to do us a favor by sending my request to the Chinese leadership, […] the road connects Cambodia with Laos as a corridor within the CLMV framework […]

(6) Four National Roads in/via Kratie 73, 377, 277 and 7 to launch construction before Khmer New Year

I would take this opportunity to inform you, as His Excellency Sun Chanthol reported to me, that this year Kratie will be the province to receive numerous new projects – the National Road 73, using the World Bank funding and is passing through two provinces – Tbong Khmum from National Road 7 to the border of Kratie province with a distance of 50 kilometers. We have now completed the procurement procedure, which is scheduled to be signed by the end of January 2023, with a budget of more than US$ 15.7 million. National Road 377 from Kratie to Sambo, 35.5 kilometers long, is the second road. Sambo is a place where we have dolphins of the Mekong. Those who wish to see the dolphins will have a better road […], the third road – 277 from Sandan to Sangkum Thmey district, 13.6 km long, has completed the procedure and is scheduled to sign by the end of January, using a budget of about US$ 25.7 million. Next, the National Road 7, from Km 300 to Km 31, Kratie roundabout, 31.25 Km long, is scheduled to be signed in March with a budget of about 15 million US dollars. These construction site of three of (the four projects) will be launched before the Khmer New Year.

(7) Ask China to help build a road from the Cambodia-China-Sekong Friendship Bridge to the Lao border

I am asking our Chinese friends to help build a road to the Lao border. I would ask Ambassador Wang Wentian to send my request to the Chinese leadership as I will surely bring this to their attention. Obviously, in the past, our Chinese friends helped us build one section of it and we still have the remaining section that connects to Laos. Therefore, I would like to ask His Excellency Wang Wentian to provide information on the request I made before the people of Kratie (tho the Chinese leaders) so that we can connect Cambodia with the Lao side as a corridor within the CLMV framework, and within our ASEAN framework. We can bring all these into consideration for nation building is because we have peace. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Cambodian People’s Party and also on behalf of the Royal Government, to thank the people of Kratie for providing support for the Royal Government’s activities. I thank the people of Kratie province in particular and throughout the country in general for voting for the CPP to win in a landslide victory.

(8) The CPP has been sharing hardships as well as comforts with the people for 44 years

Hopefully, on July 23, 2023, the people of Kratie province will continue to vote for the CPP, because peace and development provides us all with opportunities, not to be separate achievements of the CPP alone, especially, when the country has peace and political stability. Those who are capable enough (to ensure peace and stability) are those who have been sharing hardships as well as comforts with the people for 44 years. No party can replace the CPP. Some people say that Hun Sen “is over and needs to be changed” […] (we have heard this) for five years. It is clear that now Hun Sen has “finished and changed.” We have ended 2022 (and changed) into 2023. It will change from 2022 to 2023 and it will change from the 6th legislature to the 7th legislature. You are not yet a (suitable) rival of Hun Sen and/or the CPP […] you may have to wait for a long time […]

(9) Cambodia expects Chinese tourists to arrive as China reopened the country

In the speech of HE Wang Wentian … Cambodia and some other countries are waiting for the arrival of Chinese tourists. In the past, we received about 2 or 3 million Chinese tourists before Covid-19. The pandemic has taken that (growth away from) all of us. Not only China, Cambodia also suffered. China has reopened the country with tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of tourists. Cambodia is definitely a tourist destination (or one that will be) an attraction for the Chinese people […] those who have been strict with China may continue to be so (but not from the Cambodian part) because it provides benefits to Cambodia. Suppose the Chinese tourists may want to go to so and so country, but that country may have had certain conditions that require Chinese people to fulfil, while Cambodia does not require Chinese tourists to do anything, just come as regular […] Cambodia invites Chinese tourists to visit the country […]

(10) Visit to China in 2020 showed solidarity, sent message to students and sent a message that “China will not be shaken”

I remember in 2020, when Covid-19 exploded, I went to China while other countries were evacuating their citizens from and did not dare to visit China. At that time, President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted me […] if we were to look back, (it was obvious that) everyone was afraid of (being in and/or going to) China. I was not afraid. I went to China to show solidarity with the Chinese people in the fight with Covid-19, on the one hand, and on the other hand, I want to send a message to the (Cambodian students in) China to go on with their studies without fear, as well as to send a message to the Cambodian people that China is not shaken. (With these strong beliefs) I hope that the Cambodian economy, all sectors, will recover in the future, especially the tourism which remains slow […]

(11) In 2022, Cambodia receives 2.2 million foreign tourists

According to HE Thong Khon, this year (2022), there will be 2.2 million foreign tourists. As China reopened, we will receive 2 million Chinese tourists (a figure that we have recorded for) the same period as before Covid-19 […] while before Covid-19 we received 6.6 million tourists, if we receive just 4 or 5 million tourists in 2023, it will make everything work again. I hope Chinese tourists will come to Cambodia. Countries of beneficiary include Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore, which are attractive destinations for Chinese tourists. The propaganda (to oppose this trend by) any country is up to them. For Cambodia, of course, that I am calling for people to continue their vaccination is common. Whether China reopens or not, Cambodia will still call for vaccination […] we, Cambodia and China, are in the phase of a comprehensive strategic partnership, the common destiny community and the national framework comparable to the “steel friends” […]

(12) Authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture to Jointly Protect the Dolphin Conservation Area and Endangered Fish Species for Tourism

[…] The Ministry of Agriculture must jointly protect this area. The issue falls within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, but the one who is in charge directly is the provincial governor, for which the authority must work out way to ensure that these dolphins are not trapped or disturbed. There is a permanent off-limit/core area. The permanent off-limit/core area must be marked to ensure that it is reserved as a tourist area. Now, a few kilometers of road leading to that place is being built […] if fishing allowed, only a number of fishermen will benefit, but it will damage the conserve are […] we must take measures and pay close attention to protect (this rare natural resource) […]

(13) Current budget surplus returns with US$ 6,145 M in customs and tax revenues …

The economy is now recovering at 5.5% this year and with the national budget collecting up to 127%. (While I was talking about this) in Kampot, I thought that only 125% could be achieved, but in fact we have realized more than 127% with a customs revenue of 2,690 million dollars, equivalent to 104.94% […] and the tax sector scored 3,455 million dollars, equal to 122.54%. In total, we collected US$ 6145 million in customs and tax revenues, not including non-fiscal tax revenue. It can be said that Cambodia has returned to the current budget surplus after Covid-19, at which time we spent more than we made in revenue. At that time, revenue fell, and demand increased. With the old year passed and current budget surplus, I expect the coming year to have a continuous current budget surplus. If Chinese tourists come to Cambodia (as we expected,) the Cambodian economy will grow even more […]

(14) To protect the peace that brings development, the happiness of the people

Since peace brings opportunities for our people and to enter the New Year, when some went for New Year’s Eve in distant places such as Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, (and) coastal areas. Our people have been enjoying their times. Without peace, there is no (such happiness). There had been hundreds of thousands of fireworks. People just shot them up everywhere. People are happy. What is the basis for such fun? It is peace. That peace leads to the development and prosperity of the nation. Even though we (have) little money, because of peace we can be happy. We must do all we can to maintain this peace. We must not underestimate destructive force as there are still those who want to rob and destroy the peace. We do not let them do whatever they wanted to. All measures are taken. At all costs, this peace must be maintained, otherwise the country will be in obstruction […]

(15) Twice the struggles took place in Kratie

The territory of Kratie province is a land of pride. It is the birthplace of political and military organizations established on December 2, 1978. We are now approaching January 7, 2023 – the 44th anniversary of the day of liberation (country from the genocidal regime) […] it is strangely coincident for me that both of the struggles that I have taken up were commencing on the territory of Kratie province. The first time, in 1970, responding to the call of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, I reported to the Marquis to fight (to liberate the country from the Lon Nol regime). My first military operation was to take out a fort in Snuol district, Kratie province. After capturing Banteay Snuol of Kratie, we were sent to help fight in Kratie province at Koh Trong […] while we arrived at this roundabout in Kratie town, we were told that all Lon Nol soldiers had surrendered. We came back down to Snoul. The then US and South Vietnamese troops stormed Snuol district and National Road 7. I fought in Snuol district and brought the remnants of the dead and wounded in the battle on May 1, 1970 to the village of Anchanh and to Phnom Pram Poan (the 5,000 mountains) […] The second phase was under the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea. On June 20, 1977, I openly came out to fight against the Pol Pot regime. The place where I fought was not far from Prek Chriv, which is the border between Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces. Then, when I built the Armed Forces of the National United Army for Salvation of Kampuchea, I also sent armed operations teams into the country, mainly into two provinces, Kampong Cham and Kratie. My army entered the five thousand mountains area and descended as far as Chhlong district. When the time comes for the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea to step out publicly, we also make public appearance in the territory of Snuol district of Kratie province. This is a history related to my life journey to begin the struggle, as a soldier, for the country’s liberation from the Khmer Rouge genocide. On January 7, 1979, one of my battalions stationed in Kratie province […]./.