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International relations

'A friend in need is a friend indeed,' Xi tells visiting Hun Sen

Cambodian leader flies to Beijing to show solidarity amid coronavirus

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Feb. 5.   © Xinhua via AP

BEIJING/HANOI -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Beijing on Wednesday, where he lauded the visit as a demonstration of unbreakable friendship and mutual trust.

"A friend in need is a friend indeed as the Cambodian people stand with the Chinese people at this special moment," Xi told Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Hun Sen is the first foreign leader to visit China since the coronavirus spread from Wuhan. The Chinese leader expressed his confidence in winning the fight against the outbreak, stressing that the government was adopting strict prevention and control measures.

"We will take good care of Cambodian citizens in China, including Cambodian students studying in China, and protect their lives and health as we treat Chinese citizens," Xi assured the Cambodian leader.

Hun Sen responded by calling the countries "steadfast friends," and criticized "some countries" as having adopted extreme measures in the face of the epidemic, Xinhua said. "What is more terrible than the epidemic is the panic itself," Hun Sen reportedly said.

As countries around the world curbed travel to and from China, Beijing-friendly Cambodia and Pakistan bucked the trend by keeping their doors open.

Cambodia has indicated that it will not evacuate its nationals from China or halt flights to or from the country. Furthermore, Hun Sen proposed visiting Wuhan himself, earlier this week, which the Chinese side politely refused. Pakistan also decided to resume flights to and from China earlier this week.

Xi's praise of Cambodia follows Beijing's thumbs up to Japan on Tuesday, where Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said she was "deeply touched" by the supportive messages and donations from the Asian neighbor.

Beijing has taken a sharply critical position toward the U.S., meanwhile, saying that Washington "hasn't provided any substantive assistance" and was the first to evacuate personnel from its consulate in Wuhan. 

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