by Xue Lei, Nguon Sovan
PHNOM PENH, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's first state visit to Cambodia has lifted Sino-Cambodian relations and cooperation to a higher level, Cambodian officials and scholars said Friday.
Xi concluded his two-day trip to the Southeast Asian nation on Friday morning after meeting with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni at the Royal Palace and Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Peace Palace.
Lawmaker Sok Eysan, a spokesperson for the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), said as a result of the historic visit, Cambodia-China ties will become closer and stronger.
"President Xi's historic visit definitely elevates Cambodia-China relations and cooperation to a higher level," he told Xinhua. "Our closer cooperation is reflected in 31 new documents that were signed between the two countries on Thursday evening under the auspices of President Xi and Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen."
The spokesman said China's aid and investment are crucial for Cambodia to develop its economy and to improve people's living conditions.
"President Xi's visit provides a lot of advantages to Cambodia and the Cambodian people," he said, adding that the signed documents would greatly contribute to Cambodia's socio-economic development.
Eang Sophalleth, an aide to Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, said the visit was a historic event which saw both sides discuss ways to further deepen their comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
"Through this landmark visit, the relationship between our two countries will be closer and stronger," he said.
According to the aide, after their bilateral talks, President Xi and Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen witnessed the signing ceremony of 31 documents covering a wide range of areas of cooperation between the two countries.
"This is historic in terms of the number of agreements signed," he said.
The agreements covered further cooperation in areas of economics, science and technology, energy, marine resources protection, media, inspection, health, irrigation development, physical infrastructure construction, water resources, industry, law enforcement, anti-human trafficking, airport development, electricity, rice export, among others.
Among the list of signed documents, two major deals are the Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of bilateral cooperation under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the concessional agreement for the development of a new international airport in northwestern Cambodia's Siem Reap province.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, said those agreements are vital for Cambodia to develop all sectors, particularly infrastructures serving economy and tourism.
"I believed that through Xi's visit, more Chinese investors and tourists will come to Cambodia because they have high confidence in the relationship between the two countries," he told Xinhua.
Pou Sothirak, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said besides promoting a closer relationship between the two countries, Xi's visit would no doubt also boost trade and investment ties.
He said the visit would stimulate bilateral trade to reach the increased target of 5 billion U.S. dollars by 2017, compared to the 4.43 billion U.S. dollar's worth of trade achieved between both countries in 2015.
He said Cambodia could see improvements in Chinese investments as the contract value for investment between China and Cambodia has surpassed the 10 billion U.S. dollar mark already, with last year's investment alone standing at 865 million U.S. dollars.
He foresaw that after Xi's visit, more Chinese investors would come to the flagship Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone.
Mey Kalyan, a senior adviser of the Supreme National Economic Council, applauded the documents that the two countries signed and expressed his belief that after Xi's trip, Sino-Cambodian relations had become one step closer in all domains.