Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Dinner Hosted by the Cambodian-Chinese Association

[Unofficial Translation]


27-Years Old Cambodian-Chinese Association

Today, my wife and I have great honor and pleasure to join with all of you for a dinner hosted by the Cambodian-Chinese Association (CCA) while Oknha Pong Khieu Se is once again the CCA’s Chairman. On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would take this opportune moment to express my warm welcome for Excellency, Ladies, for coming from various provinces and parts of China like Macau, Hong Kong, or even Taipei to attend this dinner party. I am so proud after listening to the report read out by Oknha Pong Kheiu Se concerning the commencement of CCA since 1990. It has thus far considered its 27 years of existence in Cambodia.

CCA and Various Surnames Contribute to Building and Developing Cambodia

This point has indicated from beginning to present the widening concept of the policy administered by the Cambodian People’s Party. In 1990, there was not yet what we called the Paris Peace Agreement. However, the Cambodian People’s Party then implemented a correct policy on the Chinese ethnic minority in Cambodia. I could recall efforts made together with other leaders for the rebirth of Chinese language school, including some in Takhmao and Kompong Cham that I had sponsored with my own resource. I am so proud that our people of Chinese origins, despite the various ethnicities – Teochew people (Chaozhou), Cantonese, or even different surnames, have combined for the construction and development of the Kingdom of Cambodia. I wish every Chinese, Cambodian of Chinese descents and/or mixed Cambodian-Chinese descents all the best wishes of the Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai.

To Receive Chinese Tourists or Refugees?

… I should say a few words about why do we have Cambodians of Chinese or Cambodian-Chinese descents in Cambodia. Well, in 2001, it is 16 years now to today, China was not yet a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), I had to answer a question posed to me while attending an international conference on topic relating to the future of Asia. They asked me whether I was concerned about China’s affiliation to WTO … My answer was asking them a question whether (the world should) receive Chinese refugees or Chinese tourists. I brought up examples about older days when China was under foreign invasion causing the country to live in hardship, the Chinese had had to flee the country to take shelters in other countries, especially in Southeast Asia, where Cambodia is one of them.

Cambodia’s harmony of Races and Religions

Some of the Cambodians who are Chinese or Cambodian-Chinese descents are aware about the reasons why your parents and/or grandparents fled China … (I think) it was time for us to receive the Chinese tourists now, and not refugees anymore. We are putting out policy to attract tourists and investors from China to the Kingdom of Cambodia … We are not concerned about Chinese influence. That was what I talked about China’s rise 16 years ago.

Now, to continue this policy, for everyone who are present here, we would not use the term Chinese living overseas but association of Cambodian Chinese, which means you have become Cambodian citizens of Chinese origin or Cambodian-Chinese descents. I am so happy that at present, Cambodia encounters no division or discrimination … It is true that our country has people from many racial origins, however, as a country, it is important to be free of racial discrimination or to achieve harmonization of races and religions. I am sure our Cambodian-Chinese Association will also make this one of their actions.

Cambodia and China – Comprehensive Strategic Partners

I am making appeal from here to every Cambodian-Chinese descent of all associations and surnames to implement cooperation in the framework of strategic partners between Cambodia and China, which, through the latest visit, President Xi Jinping (and I have) promoted to comprehensive strategic partner status. This has been a pride of a long-lasting historic relation between Cambodia and China. In Cambodia’s Phnom Penh, we also have a Confucius Institute, which I hope CCA will join with the Royal Academy of Cambodia in facilitating its works … We must work together to realize goals set out by the Chinese and Cambodian leaders to achieve a five billion USD trades between the two countries in 2017.

I wish to have your attention on luring more Chinese tourists. I spoke to former President Hu Jintao of China, and then to President Xi, that I wish to see that tourists’ arrival from China to Cambodia will reach 0.01% of the Chinese population. China has some 1.4 billion people, so it should be 1.4 million tourists by this figure. This would require participation of CCA in providing Chinese language training for those who will take the jobs of guiding them. I am asking the Chinese Ambassador to work with CCA to strengthen quality of education in this area to provide ample service for the forthcoming Chinese tourists, which I hope, will increase in number to the Kingdom of Cambodia. So far, we had received some 800,000 of them already. I am certainly proud that we will get there […]

One Belt, One Road; Maritime Silk Road; AIIB

On another front, we are continuing to implement agreements relating to “one belt, one road,” the 21rst Century Maritime Silk Road initiated by China. We are one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank (AIIB). We must continue with this. This year, certainly I will visit China for a conference on the maritime silk-road and one belt-one road initiatives.

One China Policy – Upholding Since the Late King-Father Preah Norodom Sihanouk

I should take this opportune moment to share with our Cambodian-Chinese descents … though some may not be happy with the Hun Sen or the CPP’s policy on China thinking it is a narrow-minded one because it does not allow establishment of Representative Office of Taiwan in Cambodia or its provinces like other countries do. Let me take chance to tell you of Chinese descents or Cambodian-Chinese descents that whether it was to or not to your liking, this One-China policy has been carried out since the time of the late King-Father Preah Norodom Sihanouk.

Respecting China’s Sovereignty Is Respecting Cambodia’s

We must do nothing to alter our respect to independence and sovereignty of China or otherwise it is what I called “shaking hands while stepping on his/her feet.” I cannot do such thing. I had worked as Foreign Minister since when I was 27 years old. In 1980s, there were many people advising me to establish relation with Taiwan. I flatly denied. In my capacity as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, I do not agree with the idea. I am seeking your understanding on this matter. Our policy on China is to respect the Chinese sovereignty. To respect the Chinese sovereignty is equal to respecting that of Cambodia.

Maybe I should give you one easy-to-understand example. Taiwan is just one province of China. If we establish relation with Taiwan or allow Taiwan to raise its flag in Phnom Penh, what meaning does that mean? It is not different that we would not feel at ease if China separates anyone of our provinces from us. Cambodia would not agree. Let us understand that they have the same repercussion.

“One-Country, Two Systems” Contacts with Hong Kong and Taiwan

I am seeking your understanding on me personally and on CPP as a whole, and I do not talk on behalf of other (political) parties who have relations with Taiwan, for our commitment to implement the one-china policy all along for 32 years now. As for Taiwan, I agree and allow for business relations. I did. For instance, we have direct flights between Taipei and Phnom Penh, and Taipei and Siem Reap. We also welcome investments from Taiwan. However, I request that no Taiwan’s flag raised in any gatherings. I will not allow that. I am sure you have understanding for the decision and policy of the Royal Government on the one-china policy and issue relating to Taiwan.

As for Tibet, I also seek our people’s understanding. I used to come by requests for a visit by so and so Buddhist monks to Cambodia. I do not have to name names. Tibet is a part of China. I am requesting your understanding on what the Royal Government has been doing. China allows contacts with Hong Kong and Taiwan in the framework of one country, two systems. The Chinese are not narrow-minded. We can do business with Taiwan. I am sure there are Taiwanese present here. Some come from Taiwan and practice their golfing in Cambodia. However, I cannot allow permission for opening of representative office of Taiwan in Phnom Penh or anywhere in Cambodia at all […]

I have no fear to talk about this one-china policy here or anywhere. China does not want anything from us but strictly implement the One-China policy. I am certain that you support the Royal Government’s position on One-China policy. The policy is so important for us but also for Asia, especially Southeast Asia, whereas ASEAN is a strategic partner with of China. We must nurture relation with China. China’s rise threatens no one. It is on the opposite, its good neighboring policy, through visions of “one belt, one road,” the Maritime Silk Road or the 21rst Century Maritime Silk Route, benefits not only developing countries in Asia but also in other regions. People highly appreciate the statement made by President Xi Jinping on 17 January 2017 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Cambodia to Increase Rice Export to China

I noted that China has relaxed its one-child policy. China before allowed only one child for a married couple. Now, if the first child of the family is a girl, they can have a second child. Based on this restriction relaxation, the Chinese population could reach some 1.5 billion before too long. China then will be a bigger market for ASEAN, including Cambodia too. This year we are exporting 200,000 metric tons of rice to China. Previous years, China allowed only 100,000 metric tons. Aside from rice, we also have a long list of goods that we can export to China. What we are short of is the required standard of goods to enter China.

China Contributes to Cambodia’s Socio-Economic Development

… Our people may remember how we get here. In the last two decades, China contributed so much in forms of grant, non-interest and soft loans for the development of Cambodia in addition to enormous investments. We still need to attract more investments from China to Cambodia, though. It is good that our country has some people who could use Chinese language but we still need to see more Chinese tourist arrivals. So more of the Chinese speaking Cambodians needed and we will also have the Chinese Yuan circulation in our market as well.

No Peace, No Development; No Development, We Could Not Keep Peace

… I am so grateful to the Chinese descents and Cambodian-Chinese descents for living with us from the time that we were in difficult situation. I know many of you sitting in the table over there. Some started their business from selling threads. They have now become millionaires. Our open policy allows you to do businesses. I hope that you all understand the necessity of keeping peace. Without peace prevailing, you would not be able to do things. You may want to look at what is happening in the Middle East. They are having a long fight. Some of you might have lived under war in between 1970 and 1975 and the regime of genocide in between 1975 and 1979. You could have grasped hardships […] In that sense, I really hope that we all see only with keeping peace and political stability that we have the ability to develop. Without peace, there would be no development. Without development, we could not keep peace.

Open-up Policy Brings National Reconciliation and Socio-Economic Development

… I have had chance to talk a great deal about core relation between peace and development with President U Htin Kyaw of Myanmar. Myanmar has problems with ceasefire agreements (with separation movements of some states). In the past, families of Khmer, Chinese, Cham, etc. suffered from the US bombardments and slaughtering from the regime of Pol Pot … in the later part (of history) after putting into implementation the open-up policy, people inside the country made efforts to stand up until they have become rich. I said to custom and excise officers that we need to raise the hens well so that they keep giving us eggs […] I hope that you all are implementing culture of paying taxes because with more taxes collected, we would be able to do more on infrastructure.

Gathering Intellectuals, Human and Resource for National Construction

… I am so grateful for our Cambodian-Chinese abroad for bringing capital and technology as investments into the country. This is what I call bringing capital from outside into Cambodia. It was different from former time when Cambodia was poor and people took their money abroad. Why do I say so? In the past, important and rich people purchased homes in England, France, Switzerland, etc. […] Our capital was small but people then, without sense of security, sent them abroad. On the contrary, after 7 January 1979 liberation, our people saved money abroad, with their knowledge, returned to the country and created businesses – small, medium or large. This is what I call open-up methodology policy concept to bring about national reconciliation and contribution for socio-economic development. I used to say that we needed to gather intellectual, human and property resources for national construction. I continue to appeal to our people living abroad – Cambodians and Cambodian-Chinese alike, to return and make investments.

I seemed to have spoken so much already. I hope that we all continue to understand and support the implementation of one-China policy of the Royal Government. We will stay as comprehensive strategic partner with China and increase trust between Cambodia and China to a higher level for the sake of stronger relations from one day to the next. I thank HE Ambassador as well as Chinese descents and Cambodian-Chinese descents from all over the country for this event. I wish you all good health./.