I would like to welcome all media representatives to this press conference. As you are already aware of, Cambodia has a great honor to host and chair the 20th ASEAN Summit on April 3-4, 2012 in this Peace Building.
The Chairman’s Statement and other documents related to the outcome of the Summit have been circulated to all of you. Therefore, I think I do not need to go into detail all of the substance again. Taking this opportunity, may I highlight only some main points as follows:
- As the Chair of the ASEAN in 2012, Cambodia has chosen the theme of “ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny” to joint determination and cooperation of the ASEAN people to work in chorus to build the ASEAN Community as a cohesive family, living in political, security, economic and socio-cultural harmony, and is rules-based, peaceful and economically strong.
- Based on the theme, we had good and fruitful discussions both in yesterday’s plenary session and today’s retreat session. Overall, the Summit put the spotlight on reviewing the progress that we have achieved and identified challenges ahead to overcome in the implementation of the ASEAN Charter, the implementation of the three pillars of the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community (including ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community), and the implementation of the IAI Work Plan II (2009 – 2015) as well as the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. In addition, ASEAN leaders also had discussions on some important issues related to stability and security in the region, enhancement of the ASEAN’s prestige and further drawing of attention from major partners to participate in ASEAN’s effort in realizing a regional community building by 2015.
- In the spirit of showing determination and concerted cooperation within the ASEAN in making ASEAN a great, cohesive, and harmonized family, Cambodia initiated the Declaration on “ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny”. Moreover, to make the “Phnom Penh Declaration” a comprehensive and an actual statement, as the Chair of the ASEAN, I requested the ASEAN leaders to consider and adopt “the Phnom Penh Agenda” which focuses on ways to address real challenges that ASEAN is currently facing and identify key measures which are the priorities for the realization of ASEAN by 2015.
- All ASEAN leaders, with great sense of responsibility, have entered into detailed discussions on the two main documents and provided their full support and endorsed the two important documents. In addition, we reviewed and adopted the Declaration on Drug-Free ASEAN 2015. This will significantly contribute to enhancing the welfare of our people especially youths in the region.
- During the discussion, ASEAN leaders took note with satisfaction of the success and achievements in all sectors. At the same time, we also acknowledged that ASEAN is continuing to face with some challenges on its path toward the realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015. We strongly believe that the measures agreed and laid down in the framework of “the Phnom Penh Agenda” will become an effective means for addressing our major challenges, including (1) the need for reducing development gaps in the region, (2) the need for successful implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity by giving great importance to the issue of coordination to ensure consistency in the implementation of priority projects and mobilizing financing necessary to implement those priority projects, and (3) the need for promoting cooperation in other sectors such as the protection of the rights of migrant workers and the strengthening of disaster management and addressing its impacts so on and so forth.
- We also took note of other progresses which are critically important for ensuring the effective implementation of the ASEAN Charter and building a people-centered community including the establishment of legal instruments for interpretation of the ASEAN Charter and addressing legal issues, progress of works of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and strengthening and expanding ASEAN’s international relations with ASEAN dialogue partners and so on and so forth.
- In addition, we paid attention to some other important issues related to ASEAN’s stability and security, including the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, peace keeping cooperation, maritime cooperation, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus as well as elimination and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons so on and so forth.
- In our discussion on regional and international issues, we took note of the positive changes, which have contributed to a better regional political environment, stability and security including the encouraging democratic development in Myanmar, good progress towards the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea (DOC), especially the positive steps which we have reached towards the formulation of a “Code of Conduct in the South China Sea”. During this discussion, we also reaffirmed our support for a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue in the Korean peninsula, especially calling for a resumption of the six-party talks as soon as possible.
- In the spirit of enhancing ASEAN’s prestige and drawing further attention from major partners to the effort of ASEAN Community building by 2015, we agreed on the Cambodia’s initiative of organizing “ASEAN Global Dialogue” in November this year. At the same time, we also adopted the concept paper on Global Movement of Moderates, and took note of the report by the Chair of ASEAN on the preparation for participating in the upcoming G-20 Summit in June, at the invitation extended by the Government of Mexico.
- During the 20th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Leaders also had fruitful dialogues with the representatives of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), of ASEAN Civil Society, and of ASEAN Youths. We consider this process as an integral part of our effort to transform ASEAN into a people-centered and people-oriented community. In this sense, we highly appreciated the commitments expressed and constructive recommendations provided by the representatives of ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Assembly, of ASEAN Civil Society and of ASEAN Youths, towards building an ASEAN Community living in peace, stability, prosperity and harmony.
- Moreover, the 20th ASEAN Summit coincided with the celebration of the 45th Anniversary of ASEAN. To celebrate this anniversary, Cambodia, as the Chair of ASEAN, issued a Statement on the 45th Anniversary of the ASEAN in order to highlight major accomplishments of ASEAN over the past four decades. We were very pleased and noted with satisfaction the proud advancement of ASEAN since its founding, especially its active and influential role in regional and global affairs.
- According to the ASEAN Charter, the Royal Government and People of Cambodia will be honored to welcome ASEAN leaders again in the 21st ASEAN Summit and related Summits scheduled in November this year.
These are the main points I want to highlight to all of you. Next, as we still have some more time, I would be happy to provide some more comments or clarifications on the questions that you may have.
NHK TV: Has there been a discussion about issue of the South China Sea?
Response: Let me clarify this issue. Maybe many of you – the journalists think that in every ASEAN Summit and other meetings concerned, there is going to be a war between ASEAN and China on issue of the South China Sea. It is a complete misunderstanding since ASEAN and China already signed a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC), a process that cannot be ignored or abandoned as it was started in 2002 in (the ASEAN Summit in) Phnom Penh.
Leaders of ASEAN and China, based on that framework, have made one step after another and finally we have reached through dialogue and negotiation an important legal instrument for peace and stability in the region. We have continued the discussion and issued a declaration which also includes the ASEAN Declaration concerning the issue of South China Sea, seeking ways to formulate the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea (CoC). The issue is included in the ASEAN Declaration on One Community One Destiny and the Phnom Penh Agenda.
Let me recall that before the actual summit started, certain circles have proposed that the South China Sea issue would not be in the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh. It was a big misunderstanding to the (ASEAN) process of resolving each and every related issue. As it is for the ASEAN integration, which has to go on, the issue relating to the South China Sea is an on-going process. How could we discuss the issue in Vietnam and Indonesia but not in Cambodia or Brunei? It has to keep going till it reaches the end which is the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea itself.
I am so disappointed to see that incapable people, who designate themselves to be independent analysts, members of the National Assembly from the opposition parties, including also a bald man with Ph D, claimed that the President of China’s visit was to lobby Cambodia (as chair of the 20th ASEAN Summit) not to discuss issue of the South China Sea. May I advise them – both those holding and not holding Ph D degree, to learn more about the process that is involving with the ASEAN affairs or I would question their ability to govern a country. They seem to have made themselves childish politicians.
Well, relating to the claim that they said Cambodia would not bring the issue of South China Sea into discussion, I would clarify that there has been no hindrance of any kind whatsoever from the part of China on this issue. The South China Sea is to be resolved by claimant countries of ASEAN and China. There could be no other forum to replace it. Let me tell you why. The issue was first signed (into agreement) by the ten ASEAN nations with China. With that in place, the issue cannot be allowed for discussion and solving by countries other than members of ASEAN and China at all.
Interference from outside has to be prevented. Cambodia plays a significant role in this prevention because it is to everyone’s understanding that such intervention would further complicate the issue. Others that are not within the framework of agreement could only appropriately welcome or support progress made between ASEAN and China on this issue. Moreover, we are satisfied with the China’s initiative for considering the negotiation of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. China has been actively involved in this process of negotiation.
It has been over a month that people made comments that Phnom Penh would not (dare) bring up this issue and even reduced Cambodia to goods tradable by China. Let me clarify that the Chinese leaders never behave themselves in way of oppressing, lobbying and/or persuasion in this matter, whilst Cambodia – as a sovereign state and responsible member of ASEAN – also is not a piece of goods for anyone to trade it with. Cambodia in fact hosted the ASEAN Summit that (worked out and) signed the DoC, which is in its ten-year anniversary.
What bothers me the most is the fact that a Cambodian national, some opposition members of the National Assembly also included, disgraced their own nation. While insulting the Royal Government to be under the Chinese pressure, it is ironical that on March 28, before the arrival of HE Hu Jintao for the state visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia, the president of the Sam Rainsy Party wrote him a letter in Khmer and in Chinese. I informed the ASEAN Summit about this in the presence of the Philippines President, as this member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian opposition used to frequently visit Manila.
Mr. Sam Rainsy’s letter states “in its gratefulness, Cambodia should fully support China in implementation of national and international policies on the basis of One-China Policy in the defense of Chinese national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” While it is in fact in accordance with the political guideline of the Royal Government of Cambodia, let me remind that prior to this statement, Sam Rainsy declared that he recognizes the one-China that is implementing liberal democracy and pluralism. However, today he praises China to the level of one-China policy implementation and acknowledged that two islands in the South China Sea belong to China undeniably. He also calls on international community to understand that eventual maritime demarcation in the South China Sea must be carried out bilaterally and without interference from outside. This issue, he suggests, must be resolved directly between China and concerned countries.
What has been proposed by Mr. Sam Rainsy seemed to have ignored completely the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC) and no country has declared doing so with regard to the South China Sea issue. In so doing, he has ignored the ASEAN and China forum on the issue which has been approved by both parties. I doubt if he is capable of leading Cambodia in both domestic and foreign policies as a sovereign state and a member of ASEAN. I will make copies and send to every embassy. I call it an opportunistic politicking of a political party’s leader.
Where would this policy lead to? It would lead Cambodia out of ASEAN and this is not what China wants. China wants to continue discussion in the ASEAN-China framework and does not want discussion between ASEAN and none other than China. Let me remind you of the DoC, signed by the ten ASEAN and China foreign ministers, that the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam and I – only two if us – still remain from the ASEAN Summit in 2002. In this consideration, what was presented by Sam Rainsy would tear the DoC apart and no credit would be given to international undertaking anymore.
I never for once thought that there is someone who could be this silly and his silliness would bring about dishonor on other Cambodians. Please let me assure the world that Cambodia is not in support of this silly gesture and those of his members of the National Assembly. We are a nation of dignity and honor. We would not in any circumstance budge for the implementation of such opportunistic policy of the opposition. I am obliged to respond to over one month of insults by these people – a bald-headed Ph D included – on me personally as Prime Minister and Chair of the 20th ASEAN Summit and on (the Royal Government) officials who have taken part in preparation for this grand event.
Vietnam TV: How the ASEAN Summit evaluates the by-elections in Myanmar and/or the Open-door policy in this country?
Response: All of the ASEAN leaders are so content with the by-election outcomes in Myanmar. How could it be unsatisfied when it is obvious that the opposition party in Myanmar won all 45 contested seats? According to what I have been informed by (President of Myanmar) HE Thein Sein, they are the most free, fair and just manner elections. In addition to that, as you know before the elections were held that HE Thein Sein came to Phnom Penh to invite observers of the ASEAN chair along with those of other ASEAN countries and partners in the region to observe the election – a preliminary statement by those observers has already been made.
As all the ASEAN leaders welcome the electoral results in Myanmar, they all are calling for embargo on Myanmar to be lifted so that Myanmar would be able to further its socio-economic development on democratic and pluralistic path.
China International Radio and China-Cambodia Friendship Radio: How do you assess China’s role – as important partner of ASEAN – in promoting development of all ASEAN countries in all fields, especially when Cambodia is taking its turn as chair of the 20th ASEAN Summit? What role would Cambodia play to promote cooperation, change and understanding between China and all ASEAN countries?
Response: As I have said in previous instance that some analysts seemed to have thought and believed that China and ASEAN have readied for war in the ASEAN Summit. It is entirely wrong. In fact it is to a contrary that the Chinese and ASEAN leaders are getting themselves ready to further bolstering strategic partnership between ASEAN and China. Let me recall that China is ASEAN’s number one strategic partner in trade. China’s development has brought about progress and development for countries in the region. I should remind you that there were two times already that China played historic roles in rescuing the region and the world (from the economic crisis).
In 1997, as the financial crisis occurred, China came in to rescue the situation in Asia. It was fortunate that China then did not suffer crisis or otherwise – because of its massive population – China would have pulled everyone down. Later, the crisis in 2008, 2009 and 2010, once again China played a rescuing role to save the world. Its contribution has been helping solve debt crisis in Europe as well. While crisis and downturn hit America and Europe with impacts on Asia, China continues to keep economic growth momentum. Let’s imagine what the world would be if China were to be suffering from the crisis too.
It is therefore important to see the role that China has played in achieving its economic development which is helping not only China itself but the whole world, especially those developing nations. Particularly, for cooperation with ASEAN, China is a strategic cooperation partner. China maintains biggest trade volume with ASEAN, while in the 2011 ASEAN-China Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Premier Wen Jiabao provided a credit fund of 10 billion USD, 4 billion USD of which is preferential buyer’s credit loan, for ASEAN. Cambodia has received a part of it for the development of its infrastructures.
It should be reminded that in recent years Cambodia has achieved from China a large amount of assistance in form of grant, non-interest and concessional loans for the development of infrastructures focusing on roads, bridges, irrigation and electricity. Many Chinese have taken part in making investments which has now added to between seven and eight billion USD.
This year in the forthcoming 21st ASEAN Summit and related meetings in Phnom Penh there will be meetings of ASEAN Plus – ASEAN + 3 and ASEAN + 1, which are very important mechanisms. I am sure that through the ASEAN-China partnering meeting, we will promote further the ASEAN-China relations, which includes also the confidence building that will further step to conclude the CoC. What is more important is that while waiting for CoC, altogether we must determinedly abide by the DoC and relevant principles on implementation of DoC.
Next year Cambodia will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the foundation of bilateral relations with China. The Cambodian-Sino relations have been elevated since 2010 to a comprehensive strategic partnership after we became good neighbors, good friends and good partners. In light of the official visit to Cambodia of President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China, the two countries – Cambodia and China issued a joint declaration which has become a roadmap for actions to be carried out altogether. The point of interest to be reminded here is the trade volume is to increase twice the 2011 size of 2.5 billion USD to 5 billion USD by 2017.
I may remind you that Premier Wen Jiabao and I had set a goal of only 2.5 billion US dollars by 2015. Seeing that the progress has been made in the fields of trade and investment relation, and the volume of trade has gone already to 2.5 billion USD in 2011, four years ahead of schedule, a new goal is worth. With outstanding increase of exports to China – whether it is rice, other agricultural crops and products from Cambodia to the People’s Republic of China, both parties decided to reset the goal to a sum of 5 billion USD by 2017 and we have no doubt that it will be met.
In general, this is a good context for both China and ASEAN. Those benefits from early harvest scheme are country members of ASEAN. In the welcoming lunch, I said to HE Hu Jintao that if Cambodia received only 0.01% of the Chinese tourists, Cambodia would record 1.34 million of tourists from China per annum.
The Cambodia Daily: After the morning session, have all ASEAN countries agreed on any point before ASEAN goes into discussion with China?
Response: I wish that you take my response seriously before putting it in words in your paper as it has always been the case (that my speech has not been properly quoted). You are advised that there are many TVs here that record everything in real terms. You would lose your credibility if you misquote, understate or overstate what I am saying.
As of now ASEAN has not yet come up with concept of related elements for drafting of the CoC. We have not discussed it in detail yet though of course our senior officials have seen drafts by this or that party. However, we have not yet reached a common point relating to this issue to bring it for discussion with China yet. We are making further efforts to move it forward. However, China should be involved from the start. It is not necessary for ASEAN to get a consensus prior to involving China. What ASEAN and China want is a win-win and not lose-lose situation. It is important to note that as strategic cooperation partnership, no one should be left in a losing situation.
In its (ASEAN) chairmanship, Cambodia will celebrate the 10th-year anniversary of the DoC and continue to proceed according to what has been agreed upon between ASEAN and China. This is a process that both sides have to observe. It is not possible to have only either one of the concerned parties observing it.
Local Journalist: Firstly, concerning Myanmar, as chair of ASEAN, when do you send Minister of Foreign Affairs to Myanmar and I doubt if you have planned a meeting President Thein Sein and Ms Aung San Suu Kyi? Secondly, concerning China, could you clarify as to why there was this official visit by the Chinese President Hun Jintao to Cambodia right before the ASEAN Summit?
Response: Well the first question is now out of date. It is not necessary now for us to show the way for Aung San Suu Kyi to go see President Thein Sein anymore and more so to send such and such ministers to Myanmar. As of the moment of speaking Ms Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues are prepared to sit in the parliament already.
As for the second question (I would have you to think that) it was not a visit that was planned to have a repercussion on (the summit) as was thought and elaborated by half-baked analysts. They said that the visit of President Hu Jintao to Cambodia (prior to the ASEAN Summit) was to lobby and put pressure on Cambodia. It was totally wrong. The visit was a pre-arrangement of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of the People’s Republic of China and it had nothing to do with the ASEAN meetings.
If he does not come to Cambodia then, he would have to come later. However, the visit was part of the visits to Seoul and New Delhi, India. I urge you to be more professional and politically mature in your analysis. It was a normal visit by a head of friendly state to Cambodia. He had not said to me to do this or that as was suggested by some half-baked analysts at all.
(I assure you that) China has not got such political style as some other countries do. Working with China for twenty years I assure you I never come to hear it said by the Chinese leaders that Cambodia has got to do this or that. China is indeed a big country, but unlike some other countries, it always respects decision of a sovereign state. There have been countries, according to Cambodian experiences, that cut off assistance because we refused to follow their instructions. I have a reason to be in (political) pain till today. They proposed that we sell off the custom administration. I disagree. Then one problem came after the other.
I accept it that they cut off their assistance. I can reveal the document. To my understanding selling off customs administration would be tantamount to trading off national sovereignty. The suggestion was brought to us by one of the biggest international organizations. I warned Cambodian officials to cease such negotiation immediately or I would strip them off their positions. I also wrote that so long as they want to buy it they may buy power from Hun Sen as well. I campaigned to get elected and to become Prime Minister. Should I sell you my service you would have more power to rule the armed forces and all services.
It is known to everyone that customs administration could be armed to fulfill its mission. How else they challenge us to sell it? When we do not abide by what they tell, they constantly bother us. I am sure if the person who committed all this listens to what I am saying, he would know what I am talking about. In total contrast, the Chinese leaders – despite assistance in forms of grant, none-interest and concessional loans they provided, I never hear a word about conditions attached. Cambodia has to come up with its own projects. Take for instance, Cambodia decides its own priority like which road to build first. In a completely opposite manner, some countries would tell us they offer a sum of money for building so and so road and it cannot be used to build a different road at all.
As a leader of a sovereign state it is totally difficult to accept it that everything will have to be done according to instructions. I do not buy it. In one of the meetings with donor countries I said bluntly to them that when Vietnam was in Cambodia, I was more independent then because I had every right to decide on Cambodia’s political and economic issues. You may be reminded that when Cambodia embarked on free market economy, Vietnam had not yet started it reform.
I have had to bring all this out because I could no longer be patient to the fact that Cambodia has been held in contempt. This is also disdainful to the Chinese leaders as well (because they are made public) to be the ones who buy out (other leaders) and oppress others. It is not true. The nature of Chinese leaders is to achieve equal right and footing as we all do too. It is in fact those who said that China has Cambodia under oppression are the ones who are actually doing it. I do not have the need to mention who they are. It is my duty to speak truly of China. It is so encouraging for small countries, Cambodia included, to be welcomed by China.
I sternly abhor the idea that Cambodia is under China’s pressure. They went in great lengths to say that as chair of ASEAN, Cambodia would work out summit’s agenda under China’s influence. It is totally ridiculous.
Well, now I would like to thank my colleagues – Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers, Secretaries of State, and those in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and other ministries concerned, who have combined efforts to put into a successful process the 20th ASEAN Summit.
I also reserve my sincere appreciations and thanks for the armed forces, including also traffic police, for providing the Summit with security and safety. I also have the need to express my sincere appreciation to the Municipality of Phnom Penh for keeping it up to the task to beautify the capital for the ASEAN Summit and hope that it will keep improving its image. It is a remarkable change as far as order, sanitation and beauty of Phnom Penh capital is concerned and credit should be given to the Municipality. I also express my deep appreciation to various Universities for initiating a short break so that the authority could get thing ready in orderly manner for the summit. I am so grateful to our people and travelers at large for the fact that we have closed down some roads so as to get the traffic flow safely for all delegates to the Summit./.