PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — Cambodia’s next leader Hun Manet said he met China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the capital Phnom Penh on Sunday and they pledged to boost ties between the two countries.
Wang arrived in Cambodia on Saturday, the first Chinese official to visit since Hun Manet was appointed prime minister on Monday, as part of a three-day tour of Southeast Asia.
Beijing’s top diplomat also visited Singapore and Malaysia after tensions flared with the Philippines over the South China Sea.
Wang met outgoing leader Hun Sen, his son Hun Manet, and other Cambodian officials.
Hun Manet was appointed by the king but he and his cabinet must still win an August 22 vote in parliament, where his father’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) dominates the lower house.
Hun Manet posted on his Telegram channel that he and Wang “pledged to promote cooperation between the two countries”.
He also reaffirmed in a Facebook post his government’s “unchanged position” towards the One-China policy and promised no interference in Chinese national affairs.
Hun Manet is scheduled to visit China in September and October.
Wang also met his Cambodian counterpart and reaffirmed Beijing’s “unwavering commitment” to respecting Cambodian sovereignty and conveyed Beijing’s support for the kingdom, according to a Cambodian foreign ministry statement.
His visit follows diplomatic clashes between Beijing and Manila over their claims to the South China Sea.
China insisted a Philippine navy vessel grounded on a reef in the Spratly Islands be removed from the hotly contested waters, long a flashpoint between them, after the Philippines accused the China Coast Guard of firing water cannon at boats on a resupply mission last weekend.
Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines are all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is in talks with China over a code of conduct in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.
Phnom Penh has become one of China’s strongest allies in the region under Hun Sen, who ruled for almost four decades, receiving huge sums of Chinese investment.
Hun Sen’s CPP won all but five of the 125 seats in the lower house in July polls, which were widely decried as a sham after the main opposition party was barred from running.
He announced days after his landslide victory he would hand power to his eldest son, a four-star general, and that he would become president of the Senate early next year as well as serve in other positions until at least 2033.