by Xue Lei, Nguon Sovan
PHNOM PENH, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming landmark visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Cambodia will contribute further to deepening all-round cooperation between the two countries, Cambodian Minister of Environment Say Samal said.
Xi will pay his first state visit to Cambodia starting from Oct. 13, further enhance bilateral relations and cooperation, both countries formally announced on Monday.
"President Xi's visit reflects a close relationship and partnership between our two countries," Say Samal told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Monday.
Say Samal, who is a son of Senate president Say Chhum, said Xi's visit would boost closer economic cooperation between the two countries, especially under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
He said many Chinese companies have invested in eco-tourism, hydropower dams and special economic zones, which are greatly contributing to developing the Cambodian economy under the OBOR (standing for One Belt, One Road) initiative.
The minister also praised the OBOR initiative, saying the initiative contributes to enhancing economic cooperation throughout the world and gives opportunities to countries along the route to develop their own economies and infrastructures.
Meanwhile, he stressed that the Southeast Asian country needs more Chinese investments in eco-tourism, adding that their investments are crucial to help the country protect its environment and natural resources.
"We're now turning our national parks and wildlife sanctuaries into tourist destinations as we want national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to be part of our social lives, so people can go for camping trips, barbecues, spending time in resorts, bushwalking, trail riding and water rafting," he said.
As well as all these modern amusements, a lot of our national parks have ancient temples and magnificent world heritage sites for tourists to enjoy.
He also urged Chinese tourists to consider spending their holidays enjoying "eco-tourist" sites in Cambodia. By doing so, it means that they will have helped Cambodia to preserve the environment and the forest.
According to government figures, the country has 45 protected parks and wildlife sanctuaries covering a total area of more than 5.9 million hectares.
Sharing his view about the seven Chinese hydropower plants in Cambodia, of which six are operational and the seventh under construction, the minister said electricity is crucial for Cambodia to develop its economy and power its industries, to create more jobs and to maintain national security.