PHNOM PENH, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Chinese COVID-19 vaccines have not only helped protect the lives of Cambodian people but also boosted the economic growth in the Southeast Asian nation, an academic said on Wednesday.
Cambodia has fully resumed its socioeconomic activities in all sectors and reopened its borders to travelers without quarantine since November last year after most of its population have been inoculated against COVID-19.
Most of the vaccines used in the kingdom's immunization campaign are China's Sinovac and Sinopharm.
"China was the first country to help Cambodia in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic," Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Phnom Penh-based Asian Vision Institute, told Xinhua. "And from the very beginning, Cambodia's choice of China as the strategic vaccine supplier was absolutely right."
With China's vaccines, Cambodia could accomplish the nationwide vaccination program, achieve strong herd immunity, and reopen its economy and borders with confidence, he said.
He added that Cambodia's leadership has been decisive since the beginning of the pandemic and made the correct decision to provide vaccination free of charge to all eligible people in the country, including foreigners.
"Cambodia has become one of the most successful countries in Asia in the fight against the pandemic, and the country is now very safe to conduct business activities and travel in the new normal," Mengdavid said.
Now, daily life in the kingdom has almost been restored to what it was before the pandemic, he said.
"The Chinese vaccines have not only protected millions of Cambodian people's lives and stabilized the country's health system, but also helped boost its economic recovery," he said.
With its high vaccination rates, he said Cambodia's economic and trade activities have returned to full swing, with economic growth predicted to be robust this year at 5.4 percent, while the tourism industry has been recovering well.
Mengdavid said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact, and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement, which both entered into force earlier this year, are also the key contributors to boosting Cambodia's economic growth and international trade in the post-pandemic era.
Cambodia has attracted more than 740,000 international visitors in the first seven months of 2022, up 560 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
"China's support for Cambodia's fight against the COVID-19 has not only highlighted the fraternal bond of friendship between the two countries, but also injected a new impetus into the building of a community with a shared future between Cambodia and China," he said.
Speaking of China's role in helping the world in combating the pandemic, Mengdavid said during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China announced the "Health Silk Road" initiative that has provided and supported millions of U.S. dollars in financial assistance and vaccines to other countries regardless of the political system or religious bias.
"China's Health Silk Road initiative has helped curb the global spread of COVID-19 and strengthen herd immunity, which is vital to boosting the post-pandemic global economic recovery," he said.
Cambodia has seen no new deaths from COVID-19 since April, as 91.6 percent of its 16 million population have been fully vaccinated with two required doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
About 62.5 percent of the people in the country have received the third dose, 25 percent have had a fourth jab, and 3.94 percent have taken the fifth shot, the health ministry said on Wednesday. ■