On the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum in China last month, Cambodia’s Hun Sen was busy. He secured a further $90 million defence grant from Beijing, adding to the $100 million already pledged in June last year. The defence deal was one of at least nine agreements signed with China at the forum. He also met with China’s President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Le Keqiang and politburo member Wang Huning. China has committed to import 400,000 tones of Cambodian rice and also struck a deal to allow Huawei to build Cambodia’s 5G network.

Adhering to convention, Hun Sen later took to Facebook to express his appreciation of the bilateral relationship, writing:

As comprehensive strategic partners and ironclad friends, we are siblings who share a single future.

The agreements and meetings all reaffirm the view of Phnom Penh firmly in Beijing’s orbit, and of the Belt and Road initiative as a full spectrum strategic project, be it economic and/or military.

Cambodia’s tilt towards China has been gaining further momentum as the European Union moves closer to revoking the “Everything but Arms” (EBA) trade scheme.

Please click here to read the full “Hun Sen’s natural bilateral “bestie”” article published at The Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Institute Research Assistant, Dr Lucy West and PhD candidate, Sovinda Po.