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Monday, September 14, 2009

Cambodia PM lauds China's aid

Cambodia's premier lauded China for providing billions of dollars of aid without imposing conditions, a subtle jibe at Western donors who seek curbs on human rights abuses and corruption.

"They are quiet, but at the same time they build bridges and roads, and there are no complicated conditions," Prime Minister Hun Sen at a ceremony for the construction of a new bridge built with $US128 million of Chinese aid.

Hun Sen recently rejected World Bank aid intended for settling land disputes after the Washington-based institution and rights groups accused Cambodian authorities of forcibly evicting tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Speaking to about 1,000 villagers and China's ambassador in Prek Kdam, about 50 km north of the capital Phnom Phen, Hun Sen said Beijing's aid had helped Cambodia become more independent while fostering social and economic development.

"China respects the political decisions of Cambodia," he said. "We have a mutual understanding and respect each other."

Cambodia's government has come under fire recently, accused of corruption and undermining the judiciary, although analysts say the investment environment is stable after decades of poverty, brutalilty and instability.

China is Cambodia's biggest aid donor, providing $US600 million in 2007 and about $260 million in 2008.

It also leads the country's foreign direct investment, with about $US1 billion spent in the war-scarred Southeast Asian nation this year.

Hun Sen added he also supported China's multimillion dollar investments in hydroelectric power.
Western environmentalists have accused Cambodia of failing to provide adequate environmental safeguards for such projects.

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