China and Cambodia to hold joint military drill this month.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday (Sep 15), looking to build on the close ties his father Hun Sen built with Beijing.

Hun Sen ruled Cambodia with an iron fist for almost four decades, and handed over the role of prime minister to his son in August.

Under his government, Cambodia became one of Beijing’s strongest allies in Southeast Asia, receiving huge sums of Chinese investment.

At Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Friday, Xi said that Hun Sen had made “historic contributions to the cause of Sino-Cambodian friendship”, and urged him to visit China often, according to a readout of his meeting with Hun Manet from state broadcaster CCTV.

Xi said he believed that Hun Manet’s visit would help promote ties between the two countries “in a deeper and more practical way”.

Hun Manet’s visit to China is one of his first trips abroad since becoming prime minister.

He is also expected to hold talks with Premier Li Qiang and Zhao Leji, head of the Standing Committee of China’s top lawmaking body, his spokesperson Meas Sophorn told the press at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Hun Manet will then travel to the southern city of Nanning to attend the 20th ASEAN-China Expo.

China’s defence ministry announced on Thursday that joint military drills with Cambodia aimed at enhancing medical cooperation would be held this month.

Despite formally handing over the prime minister’s office, Hun Sen has made it clear that he intends to wield influence after he steps down, scotching the notion that Cambodia could change direction under his son.

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