China gives $600 million aid to ally Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's prime minister announced Friday that China will give his government nearly $600 million in aid to support the country's election infrastructure, education and health.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a statement that the aid was finalized after he met with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang at an Asia-Europe meeting in Mongolia.

"At my request, our Chinese friends have agreed to provide fund for supporting the election process, health care, education and clean water," Hun Sen said.

China is a key ally and economic partner of impoverished Cambodia. It has provided millions of dollars in aid and investment over the past decade, granted it tariff-free status on hundreds of trade items and written off its debt.

In return, Cambodia supports China in international forums, including in Beijing's ongoing dispute with other Southeast Asian countries in the South China sea.

Last month, Cambodia deported 39 suspected criminals to China, including 25 Taiwanese, over whom Beijing insists it has jurisdiction despite protests from self-ruled Taipei.