Xi Jinping Boulevard in Phnom Penh a ‘new milestone’ in Chinese-Cambodian relations

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 4:08 pm

Cambodia’s capital has renamed a major road after Chinese President Xi Jinping in recognition of the country’s friendly relationship with China.

At the request of the Cambodian government, Beijing has allowed Phnom Penh to name the city’s third ring road “Xi Jinping Boulevard”, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet said on X on Tuesday.

“The relationship between Cambodia and China has a long history and has grown to an inseparable level. This relationship is worthy of the values of mutual trust, especially political trust,” Hun Manet said in his post.

He also mentioned China’s huge infrastructure investment in Cambodia, including nearly 4,000km (2,486 miles) of road construction.

Wang Wentian, Beijing’s top envoy in Phnom Penh, said at the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday that the road would be a “new milestone” in bilateral relations, according to an article posted on the official WeChat account of the Chinese embassy in Cambodia.

Hun Manet, who also attended Tuesday’s ceremony, said the naming of the road, which began construction in 2019 and went into service last August, was intended as thanks to Xi for his “historic contribution” to Cambodia’s development, the article said.

The 48km boulevard, which cost US$273 million and was built by Shanghai Construction Group, was financed on concessional terms by Beijing, with contributions from the Cambodian government, the Phnom Penh-based Khmer Times reported on Wednesday.

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It is the second road in Phnom Penh to be named after a Chinese leader. In 1965, Cambodia’s late King Norodom Sihanouk named a boulevard after Mao Zedong as a show of gratitude for Beijing’s economic and military aid to the country.
Neither late leaders Deng Xiaoping nor Jiang Zemin were given similar honours.

During a visit to Cambodia late last month amid tensions in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China would be Cambodia’s “most reliable friend and firmest supporter” regardless of the international environment.
Wang also promised more Chinese investment in Cambodian infrastructure.

Hun Manet said Phnom Penh would firmly support China’s positions on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang and continue to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, a Beijing-led infrastructure project.

China’s relationship with Cambodia remains one of the closest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). There are no territorial disputes between the two countries, and Phnom Penh is heavily dependent on Chinese trade and investment.

Trade between the two countries reached US$12.26 billion in 2023, up 5 per cent from 2022, according to Cambodian customs figures.

Beijing is also helping Cambodia upgrade its Ream naval base in the Gulf of Thailand after Phnom Penh dismantled a US-built facility at the same base in 2020. Washington is concerned that the Chinese military could use the base as an overseas outpost, a claim denied by Cambodia’s defence ministry.

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