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PM Presides at Handover of Cambodia’s New Stadium

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Phnom Penh: Prime Minister Hun Sen has presided over a signing ceremony, formally handing over the Morodok National Sports Complex to Cambodia. Built at a cost of $150-million, the sports complex represents the largest ever gift China has given to another country. It took eight years to build, can seat 60,000 people and is five storeys high. Its design was personally selected by the Prime Minister to reflect the long-standing relationship between Cambodia and China. The two countries are represented by the stadium’s two 99-metre tall “prows”, with the stadium designed to represent an ancient Chinese sailing vessel.

It was the relationship between the two countries which dominated the speeches. Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed that the gift of the stadium was indeed “historic and meaningful” by virtue of its value. He told an audience of approximately a thousand Cambodian athletes and garment workers that the stadium had been built because Cambodia is such a close friend of China’s. He described the relationship as a rose that has “never stopped blooming”. He says both China and Cambodia are developing countries and that the People’s Republic of China will continue to support Cambodia’s growth as a nation. He says the success of the stadium project was down to the Prime Minister’s leadership.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said the stadium represented “a new record” in the Cambodia-China relationship, having been completed unexpectedly in August. He says the sports complex is akin to an “early season fruit” of the strategic partnership, with other benefits yet to come. He says it was King Father Norodom Sihanouk who initiated the friendship with China, as the king understood just how big a friend of Cambodia’s China would become. The diplomatic links predate that of China’s membership of the United Nations.

The stadium is a product of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Prime Minister once again questioned where Cambodia would be today without China’s help. He says without China’s assistance with vaccines, the kingdom would have been able to vaccinate only two million of its citizens. Instead, it is one of the most vaccinated country’s in the world, with booster shots and vaccines for children already being rolled out. He commended China for all its developmental assistance and says Cambodia will continue to take help from whomever it is offered. He says Cambodia is not biased towards China and remains friends with all countries. He pointed out that China is also not only helping Cambodia, but other countries across ASEAN too.

With the new sports complex complete, Cambodia is ready to host the 2023 SEA Games-ASEAN Para Games. The Prime Minister apologised to ASEAN leaders on Sunday for the fact that Cambodia had not been in a position to host the biennial games but was now looking forward to welcoming athletes to the kingdom. He says Sunday’s handover could only be attended by just over a thousand athletes and garment workers, who all received a cash award of approximately $250, because of the pandemic. The Prime Minister says as soon as it is safe to do so, an official opening ceremony for the Morodok Techo National Sports Complex will be held, to which thousands of people will be invited.

The Prime Minister also thanked his cabinet ministers who had overseen the project, as well as the construction teams and their workers for completing the stadium to such a high standard. He says the stadium has been built for the country and its youth.

PHOTO: SARY


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