A mixed force of 7,000 military and security personnel will be deployed to protect Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visits Cambodia later this month for his first visit since coming to power, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.
The security arrangements will be even greater than what was mustered for U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders during their 2012 visit for the Asean Summit in Phnom Penh, said National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith.
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects an honor guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last month. (Reuters)“We’ve prepared a different plan because this time the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are increasing their participation,” he said.
General Chantharith would not elaborate on the reasons for such a large security detail, which is to include officers from police, military police, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s elite bodyguard unit and other members of the military.
“It was based on organizational planning,” he said, adding that 6,000 officers had been deployed for the Asean Summit four years ago.
Mr. Xi last visited the country in 2009 as vice president—a controversial meeting that immediately followed Cambodia deporting 20 asylum-seeking Muslim Uighurs to China amid widespread international condemnation.
During that visit, Mr. Xi pledged $1 billion in investments in Cambodia, funding major infrastructure projects including a $400 million port on the Mekong River in Kandal province, completed in 2013, to take on the bulk of cargo traffic for shipments to Phnom Penh.
Gen. Chantharith said Mr. Xi’s visit would further cement growing ties between the two countries, but declined to give the exact dates of the visit or say whether the Chinese president might venture beyond Phnom Penh.
This year alone, Beijing has poured at least $600 million in aid into the country, making it by far the largest single donor.
In return, analysts say, Cambodia has been increasingly willing to do China’s bidding in international forums, including repeatedly blocking joint Asean statements opposing Beijing’s territorial claims to the South China Sea. Twice this year, Cambodia has also heeded China’s request to deport Taiwanese criminal suspects to the mainland rather than repatriating them, despite protests from Taipei.
Last week, China also stood by Cambodia as it was criticized at a U.N. Human Rights Council session over rights abuses and a crackdown on political opponents. China’s U.N. representative Wang Ying urged outsiders to allow the country to find “a suitable human rights development model and path.”
China’s Communist Party has even pledged to help improve Cambodia’s judiciary—widely seen as corrupt and ineffective—and given money to bolster election reforms.
The Chinese Embassy did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. A spokesman for Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry could not be reached.
The visit was first announced by National Police chief Neth Savoeun earlier this week in a post on his personal Facebook page, saying that it would occur sometime in October.
narim@cambodiadaily.com
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