PHNOM PENH, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian officials and scholars on Wednesday extended their gratitude to China for its supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the kingdom from the early days of the pandemic, saying that the jabs have protected lives and reinvigorated economic growth.
Tep Ngorn, second vice president of the Senate of Cambodia, said China was the first country to support Cambodia in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak by providing medical experts, medical equipment, and a bulk of the vaccines.
"With Chinese help, Cambodia has achieved great success in controlling the spread of COVID-19," he told a seminar on "Cambodia-China joint COVID-19 fight for a shared future", which was attended by over 100 people.
He said that Cambodia and China are "iron-clad friends," who have always been together through thick and thin, and that the joint fight against the pandemic has injected fresh impetus into the bilateral ties between the two countries.
Ngorn said the excellent relationship between Cambodia and China should serve as a role model for country-to-country relations and international cooperation.
Health Ministry's Secretary of State Youk Sambath said Chinese vaccines had enabled the Southeast Asian nation to achieve strong herd immunity very early.
"With its high vaccination rates, Cambodia has resumed all socioeconomic activities and fully reopened its borders with confidence since November 2021," she said. "China is Cambodia's iron-clad friend, and China is a true friend, who has always stayed with the Cambodian people through thick and thin."
Meanwhile, Sambath said Cambodia closely monitored the COVID-19 situation in China, saying that the kingdom supported response measures taken by the Chinese authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"China always puts people's lives and health first, and the country's science-based response measures have effectively helped reduce new infections, severe illness and deaths," she said.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, an arm of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said life in Cambodia has been restored to what it was before COVID-19 and the country has reported no new deaths from the pandemic since April.
"Chinese vaccines have protected millions of lives in Cambodia," he told Xinhua. "Chinese jabs have also helped stabilize the health system and boost economic recovery in the kingdom."
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Phnom Penh-based Asian Vision Institute, said Cambodia's choice of China as the strategic vaccine supplier was totally right.
"Cambodia has become one of the most successful countries in Asia in the fight against the pandemic," he told Xinhua. "Now, the country is very safe to conduct business activities and traveling."
According to the Ministry of Health, more than 91 percent of Cambodia's 16 million population have been fully vaccinated with two required vaccine doses, and 65 percent of the population have received three doses. ■