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Cambodia renames capital’s ring road as ‘Xi Jinping Boulevard’

Cambodia renamed a main road in Phnom Penh as “Xi Jinping Boulevard” to honour China’s president. The move comes ahead of a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, aiming to bolster ties with Cambodia, which has leaned towards China.



On Tuesday (28 May), the Cambodian government renamed one of its main roads in the capital, Phnom Penh, as “Xi Jinping Boulevard” to honour the Chinese president for his “historical contribution to the development of Cambodia.”

The renaming ceremony took place at the Peace Palace, attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet and outgoing Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian, according to a statement on the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia’s Facebook page on Wednesday.

“This marks another major milestone that demonstrates the long-standing and robust relations between the two countries,” said Mr Wang.

“China is pleased to collaborate with Cambodia in preserving the legacy of this strong friendship and in creating a brighter future for our community of shared destiny in the new era.”

Previously known as the Third Ring Road, the boulevard was constructed at a cost of US$273 million, with concessional financing from the Chinese government and contributions from the Cambodian government, as reported by the Khmer Times.

Cambodia President: China’s assistance has not only helped socio-economic development but also strengthened political independence

Hun Manet also wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that China had strongly approved the renaming, which “has a huge meaning to the Cambodia-China ironclad friendship.”

“Cambodia-China relations are long-standing and have grown to an inseparable level,” said the prime minister, who is the son of veteran leader Hun Sen.

“This relationship embodies the values of mutual trust, especially political trust. ”

“China’s assistance has not only helped socio-economic development in Cambodia but also strengthened its political independence.”

Previously known as the Third Ring Road, the construction of Xi Jinping Boulevard was undertaken by the Chinese company Shanghai Construction Group Co. Ltd.

It commenced on 14 January 2019 and comprised the construction of four flyovers and eight bridges. The boulevard stretches across 15 km (9 miles) in Phnom Penh and extends further to cover 38 km (24 miles) in Kandal province.

Phnom Penh already has a Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, named by then head of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, in 1965 in honor of the first chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong.

China’s support for the notorious Khmer Rouge regime persisted into the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s as the ousted communists contended with a Vietnamese-backed government, of which Hun Sen was a member.

However, relations between Phnom Penh and Beijing have thrived since the 1990s.

Wednesday’s announcement preceded a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Following his participation in the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this week, Austin is scheduled to travel to Phnom Penh on 1 June, where he plans to meet Hun Manet.

Hun Manet, who assumed the role of prime minister from his father last year, is a graduate of West Point, the elite U.S. military academy, and has also studied at New York University, sparking optimism among U.S. officials for an enhancement in relations with the country that has become increasingly aligned with China.

A statement issued by the Pentagon on 24 May expressed Austin’s hope to build on meetings he had with senior Cambodian officials during his last visit for a summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations defence ministers in November 2022.

The United States has criticized the Chinese-led expansion of the Ream naval base near the port of Sihanoukville, asserting that it seems to be establishing a permanent Chinese naval presence, thereby enabling Beijing to project power across the Gulf of Thailand.

Cambodia denies allegations that China is constructing a permanent base, which would violate Cambodia’s 1993 Constitution.

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