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Space for both India, China to invest in Cambodia: Ansari

There is space for both India and China to invest in Cambodia, Vice President Hamid Ansari said today as he dismissed the notion that India’s foray into the Southeast Asian country would make the communist giant uneasy.

“We are doing what we can do best, capacity building, some specialised areas of assistance like water resources, telecommunication, transmission lines and these patterns. China is doing it on a different scale. I think there is space for both,” Ansari told reporters on his way to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Asked about whether India’s push for making investments in Cambodia would make Beijing uneasy, Ansari said, “No I don’t think (so). Chinese levels of investment are so different that I don’t think that will be (the case). And I think there is no suggestion at the local government level.”

The China-Cambodia relationship has reached new peaks in recent years. China is one of Cambodia’s largest foreign investors, a major donor of aid and an increasingly important trading partner. China has also actively made investments in Laos and other Southeast Asian countries.

Ansari, who is on a four-day two-nation tour to Cambodia and Laos, said the trip is important as both the countries are members of the ASEAN and as part of government’s Act East policy it is essential to step up ties with these countries.

“Both the countries have gone through a lot of turmoil in the past and we have helped them. Whenever a need arose, be it in the international organisations, UN missions, we have helped these countries and even today whatever we can do through different projects we are helping them,” he said.

Asked about what role India could play in the South China Sea disputes, the Vice President said, “On the South China Sea question, the Indian position has always been the same. It is a consistent position that such matters need to be settled within the framework of the Law of the Seas Convention. And I think that is a view supported by a very large number of countries.”

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan strongly contest China’s claims of sovereignty on almost all of South China Sea. Maritime tensions went up high in the region after the US started backing the five nations to stand up to China’s claims.

Talking about the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, Ansari said some things will come out from this visit like increase in scholarships offered that will be announced during the trip.

The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) was established in 2000 at Vientiane, Laos, at the First MGC Ministerial Meeting.

It comprises six member countries, namely India, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. They emphasised four areas of cooperation, which are tourism, culture, education, and transportation linkage in order to lay a solid foundation for future trade and investment cooperation in the region.