As one of the three key foreign exhibitions or forums in state level, China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) born to be high-profile. There were 67 state leaders from home and abroad and over 2900 ministerial distinguished guests attending the past 14 expos.
Different from other state leaders, Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, has attended CAEXPO for ten times, which made him an ASEAN state leader with the highest number of attending CAEXPO.
Heartfelt attendance and full support in the past ten years
Hun Sen’s appreciation and support made CAEXPO a key platform of propelling cooperation between China and Cambodia, which has become a good example for other ASEAN countries. Meanwhile, the personality charm of the “Cambodia friend” and indissoluble bound between he and CAEXPO were universally known.
In 2003, Cambodia served as a coordinating country for the relationship between ASEAN and China. In the meeting of ASEAN-China leaders in Bali Island, Wen Jiabao, former prime minister of Chinese State Council proposed to launch CAEXPO as he met with Hun Sen, who was in favor of it and encouraged other ASEAN members to support this proposal.
With ASEAN countries’ support, the first CAEXPO was held in 2004. Hun Sen was invited to lead a delegation to attend opening ceremony of the first CAEXPO and since then, he was usually seen in CAEXPO.
During the period of Cambodia serving as a chairman of ASEAN and coordinating country for ASAEN and China, Hun Sen put forward to hold the 15th anniversary memorial summit of China-ASEAN dialogue relationship that acquired Chinese leader’s appreciation and support. The memorial summit was successfully held in October 2006 in Nanning, which became a milestone for bilateral relationship.
“Since CAEXPO was held, trade volume between ASEAN and China surged and the negotiation and establishment of ASEAN-China Free Trade Area were developed. I hope CAEXPO can play a key role in bilateral trade cooperation,” said Hun Sen.
“I expect more products and enterprises of Cambodia to go abroad.”
Hun Sen said in an interview, “I am honored for the increasing number of Cambodian exhibitors. I expect more products and enterprises of Cambodia to go abroad.”
Since serving as the country of honor for the first time in 2008, Cambodia enjoyed an independent pavilion to exhibit its high-quality products, of which Jasmine Rice was one of the most popular products.
In fact, Hun Sen attached great importance to the sales of Jasmine Rice. In his visit to Nanning or meeting with leaders of Guangxi, Hun Sen always encouraged to deepen all-field cooperation between Cambodia and Guangxi, especially in agriculture.
When he visited Nanning, he always expected to eat Cambodian rice. He hoped China to import rice from Cambodian. 2013 witnessed the first time of guests from home and abroad having Cambodian rice during 10th CAEXPO. Thus, Hun Sen also realized his dream of eating Cambodian rice in Nanning.
Besides agriculture, Hun Sen encouraged bilateral enterprises to promote cooperation in projects via CAEXPO and enlarge the influence of projects.
In the opening ceremony of the 13th CAEXPO, when Hun Sen and his group passed the booth of “Sino-Cambodian Comprehensive Investment and Development Pilot Zone and the Cambodia Qixinghai Special Tourism Zone” built by Chinses enterprise, he said he was familiar with the project and took over introduction from the narrator who was ready to introduce this project, which attracted people’s applaud. Hun Sen stressed that the building of pilot zone was not only a part of developmental strategy of Cambodia, but also a part of “Belt and Road”. He told Chinese builders, “Cambodia makes an account of the project and I will fully support it. I expect it will be accomplished as soon as possible so that it can help employment and lead to economic and tourism development.”
Hun Sen had another wish about CAEXPO.
“On my first attendance to CAEXPO, I planned to attend CAEXPO ten times.”
On November 11 of 2017, Hun Sen realized his promise in the 14th CAEXPO. He made a speech on opening ceremony,
“As a platform for consolidating bilateral or multilateral cooperation and creating opportunities for economic development, CAEXPO offers bilateral leaders and entrepreneurs a channel for negotiation and communication. It is significant for CAEXPO, a growing platform, to promote regional development and adapt itself to the trend of active cooperation between China and ASEAN.”
Hun Sen will lead a delegation to attend CAEXPO as Cambodia works as the country of honor once again.
2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Cambodia and the second time for Cambodia as the country of honor. On April 24, Hon Sen met with Chen Wu, president of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and said he planned to attend the 15th CAEXPO with a delegation. It will be the eleventh time for him to attend CAEXPO.
Hun Sen said, it was a great honor for Cambodia to serve as country of honor and willing to play an important role for it. “We hope to hold a serial of forums during the period of CAEXPO. We expect to become not only Chinese trade partner, but also trade partner of more countries.”
He added, Cambodia also planned many celebrating activities for the 15th anniversary of foundation of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and the 60th anniversary of establishment of China-Cambodia diplomatic ties.
On May 22, Yang Yanyan, Deputy Secretary General of CAEXPO Secretariat said in the preparatory meeting, Cambodia would enjoy Pavilion D10 as an independent pavilion with 145 booths, demonstrating Cambodian agriculture, infrastructure, SMEs, educational culture and tourism. Kampong Thom Province has been identified as the “City of Charm” of Cambodia.
Let’s expect the new story between CAEXPO and Hun Sen.