PHNOM PENH — A Cambodian government official on Sept 8 lauded the ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the past 25 years and foresaw a brighter future in their relations.
“China is a very important strategic partner of ASEAN,” Kao Kim Hourn, Minister Attached to Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport upon Hun Sen’s return from ASEAN Summits in Laos.
“In their past-25-year relations, ASEAN and China have established a lot of mechanisms for cooperation in all fields,” he said.
China is the largest trading partner of ASEAN, he said, noting that ASEAN total trade with China reached $346.4 billion in 2015, accounting for 15.2 percent of ASEAN’s total trade.
He added that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows from China to ASEAN amounted to $8.2 billion in 2015, placing China as ASEAN’s fourth largest source of FDI.
According to the official, ASEAN and China leaders vowed to boost their two-way trade and investment of $1 trillion and $150 billion, respectively by 2020.
Kao said that the South China Sea issue would not hurt ASEAN-China relations since the issue was between some ASEAN member states and China, not between ASEAN and China.
“The South China Sea issue is the bilateral issue between individual countries and China,” he said. “Therefore, all parties directly concerned (in the issue) should continue to resolve their disputes peacefully through negotiations and consultations in accordance with international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.