Sunday 28 April 2024

Who is H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha? Generated from Microsoft Bing, in April 2024

H.E. Sar Sokha (Khmer: ស សុខា) is a distinguished Cambodian politician and military general. Let’s delve into some key aspects of his life and career:

  1. Background and Positions:

    • Sar Sokha currently holds the esteemed positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior in Cambodia.
    • Previously, he served as the Secretary of State for Education, Youth, and Sport within the Cambodian government.
    • Notably, Sar Sokha is the son of former Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
  2. Early Life and Education:

    • Born on June 4, 1981, in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia, Sar Sokha is the eldest son of Samdech Krala Hom Sar Kheng, who himself held various high-ranking positions in the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
    • Sar Sokha pursued his education both in Cambodia and abroad. He studied in France, where he earned his Ph.D. Additionally, he engaged in studies in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Singapore, focusing on areas such as rural developmentscienceeducationcivil law managementsub-national administration, and police and military skills. His fluency extends to both French and English.
  3. Career Highlights:

    • At the age of 42, Sar Sokha served as a police officer within the Ministry of Interior, assisting his father, Samdech Krala Hom Sar Kheng. His father held various positions, including Phnom Penh Deputy Police Commissioner responsible for public order and Secretary of State within the Ministry of Education.
    • Sar Sokha was appointed as the Chairman of the Board for several national universities, including the National University of Meanchey in Banteay Meanchey, the National University of Battambang in Battambang, and the Chea Sim Kamchay Mear National University of Prey Veng.
    • Furthermore, he has been designated as the President of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC) in Prey Veng, Battambang, and Banteay Meanchey.
    • In the 2023 national election, Sar Sokha was successfully elected as a Member of Parliament for Prey Veng Province11.

For more updates, you can follow H.E. Sar Sokha on Facebook23. 🇰🇭

The achievements of H.E. Dr. Abhisantibindit Sar Sokha, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Ministry

 Prepared by Dr. Sam Rany  

1. Honors and Recognitions

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, a distinguished figure in Cambodian politics, has an impressive academic and professional background that spans law, public administration, and education. His academic journey began with a high school diploma earned in Cambodia between 1987 and 1998, laying the groundwork for his subsequent higher education achievements. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's pursuit of knowledge led him to obtain a Bachelor of Public Administration from France in 2002, marking the start of his international academic pursuits. He continued his education in Singapore, where he earned a Bachelor of Criminal Investigation and International Traffic Management in 2010 and a Master of General Science in Management and Economic Science in 2004. Furthering his education in Cambodia, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha obtained a Bachelor of Social Science in 2016 and a Bachelor's Degree in Educational Science in 2019. His academic excellence was recognized in 2023 when he received a Doctor of Humanities (Honoris Causa) from the University of the East, Philippines.

Currently serving as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Cambodia, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has dedicated his career to advancing the nation's security and development agenda. With a rich background in law and public administration, he has been instrumental in leading efforts to prevent and suppress cybercrime, playing a pivotal role in safeguarding Cambodia's digital landscape. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha held a seat in the Cambodian People's Party as a Member of Parliament for Prey Veng Province.

His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, awarded H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha the title of "Abhisantibindit” of the Police Academy of Cambodia, based on the Royal Decree dated August 24, 2023. This honor is a testament to his significant contributions to the nation's security and governance. Additionally, Dr. Sar Sokha has been awarded six honorable medals, recognizing his service and dedication to Cambodia. These awards include the Royal Order of Monisaraphon (Knight Grand Cross), two Kingdom of Cambodia Medals (Maha Sirivaddha and Dhipadinda), and other prestigious distinctions reflecting his exemplary services.

2. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha’s Cyberspace and Security Achievements

2.1. Pioneering Cybersecurity Initiatives and Identification

Under the visionary leadership of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, the Ministry of the Interior in Cambodia has taken significant strides in bolstering the nation's cybersecurity defenses. Recognizing the dynamic and evolving nature of cyber threats, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has been at the forefront of developing and executing comprehensive cybersecurity strategies. These strategies are specifically tailored to meet Cambodia's unique needs and challenges.

Central to these initiatives are efforts across multiple fronts, including policy reform, capacity building, and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. Such measures are designed to enhance the resilience of Cambodia's digital infrastructure, safeguarding it against a wide array of cyber threats. Through these efforts, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has established a robust framework for cybersecurity, positioning Cambodia to better navigate the complexities of the digital age. Leading the charge against cybercrime, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has directed the National Authority for Combating Cybercrime (the Department of Anti-Cybercrime). This entity plays a pivotal role in the national strategy to combat all forms of cybercrime within Cambodia. The efforts here are crucial in creating a safer digital environment for both individuals and businesses operating within the country.

In addition to cybersecurity measures, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has made significant contributions to the legal framework governing civil matters in Cambodia. He played a key role in the preparation of the Cambodian Law on Civil Status, Civil Status Statistics, and Identification. This landmark legislation, ratified by the King of Cambodia on July 1, 2023, establishes comprehensive rules and procedures for civil registration, residence registration, civil status statistics, personal identification, and population management. Importantly, this law is applicable to all individuals residing in Cambodia, as well as Cambodian citizens living abroad, ensuring a unified approach to managing civil affairs across the nation. In collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Justice, he also established the Criminal Management System, which records all crimes such as human trafficking, drug smuggling, and traffic violations.

 Through these concerted efforts, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has not only enhanced Cambodia's cybersecurity posture but has also laid down foundational legal frameworks that contribute to the orderly management of civil affairs. These achievements underscore his commitment to protecting the nation's digital and legal integrity, marking significant milestones in Cambodia's journey toward a more secure and regulated digital future.

2.2. Establishing Cybercrime Response Mechanisms

In the face of increasing cybercrime threats, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has emphasized the critical need for a robust response mechanism within the Ministry of the Interior. By spearheading collaborations with law enforcement agencies, relevant ministries, and other key stakeholders, he has significantly enhanced the nation's cybersecurity posture. Central to these efforts is the creation of specialized units tasked with the investigation and prosecution of cyber-related offenses. These units, equipped with advanced expertise and resources, stand at the forefront of Cambodia's fight against cybercrime, ensuring rapid and firm responses to threats.

Further anchoring his commitment to national cybersecurity, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has played a pivotal role in drafting a comprehensive Cyber Law. This legislative effort, conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication and additional stakeholders, aligns with the Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework as well as the digital government policy. The proposed Cyber Law is a testament to the government's dedication to cybersecurity as a fundamental element in fostering the development of the digital sector and mitigating potential risks. It outlines crucial principles, measures, and mechanisms for maintaining cybersecurity standards across vital information infrastructures. This draft law not only aligns with regional and global cybersecurity trends but also aims to strengthen Cambodia's cybersecurity infrastructure, thereby ensuring the nation's digital landscape remains secure and conducive to sustainable growth and prosperity.

 2.3. Enhancing Public Awareness and Education of Cyberspace and Security

Under the guidance of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, the General Department of Digital Technology and Education within the Ministry of Interior has undertaken several proactive measures to educate the public about cybersecurity. These initiatives include the production of educational materials, such as short videos, which are broadcasted across various mass media platforms and social communication channels. By leveraging modern communication channels, the department aims to reach a wide audience and disseminate valuable information on cyberspace security.

Recognizing the significance of raising public awareness regarding cybersecurity issues, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has championed various initiatives to educate citizens about the risks associated with online activities. Through targeted awareness campaigns, workshops, and outreach programs, efforts have been made to empower Cambodians with knowledge about best practices for safe and responsible online behavior. By providing essential guidance and resources, individuals are equipped to navigate cyberspace with confidence and mitigate potential risks.

By fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness and vigilance, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has made significant strides in building a more resilient and secure digital society. Through continuous education and engagement, efforts have been directed towards instilling a sense of responsibility among citizens towards their online actions. By encouraging proactive measures such as password management, privacy protection, and critical thinking online, individuals are better prepared to safeguard themselves against cyber threats.

2.4. Fostering International Collaboration in ASEAN and World

In light of the increasingly interconnected nature of cyberspace, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha recognizes the critical importance of international collaboration in addressing cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Through active engagement with regional and global partners, Cambodia has sought to exchange best practices, share threat intelligence, and enhance cooperation in combating cybercrime. This collaborative approach not only strengthens Cambodia's cyber resilience but also contributes to broader efforts aimed at promoting secure and stable cyberspace regionally and globally.

Cambodia's commitment to fostering international collaboration is evident through its participation in key regional forums, such as the ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC). By engaging in discussions and sharing insights at such forums, Cambodia contributes to the development of regional strategies and frameworks for addressing cyber threats. Additionally, bilateral engagements with countries like Vietnam have resulted in the signing of cooperation agreements, such as the "2024 Cooperation Plan" Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). These agreements aim to bolster bilateral cooperation in combating various crimes, including cybercrime, thereby enhancing mutual security and stability.

According to the Interpol 2020 report, ASEAN member countries face several major types of technological crimes. These include virus infections (BOTNET), phishing techniques for information theft, business email compromise, banking malware, ransomware, and crypto-jacking. Recognizing the severity of these threats, Cambodia works closely with Interpol and other countries to prevent and combat cybercrimes. By leveraging international partnerships and collaborative efforts, Cambodia enhances its capabilities in detecting, investigating, and mitigating cyber threats within its borders and across the region. As Chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), he collaborates with China to combat transnational crime, human trafficking, illegal online gambling, and other crimes, as well as drug-related crimes, telecom fraud, and illegal cross-border gambling. He also works on counter-terrorism, preventing a "color revolution," and telecom fraud. He contributes to the growth of the Cambodia-China Law Enforcement Cooperation and Coordination Office.

In conclusion, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership underscores Cambodia's commitment to promoting international collaboration in cyberspace security. Through active engagement in regional forums, bilateral partnerships, and cooperation with organizations like Interpol, Cambodia contributes to collective efforts aimed at safeguarding cyberspace and combating cybercrime. By fostering strong relationships with regional and global partners, Cambodia strengthens its resilience against cyber threats and reinforces its position as a responsible actor in the global cybersecurity landscape.

3. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha’s Contributions and Country’s Development

 3.1. Promoting Educational Quality from Kindergartens to Higher Education

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, a fervent advocate for education, stands at the forefront of efforts to elevate educational standards across all levels, spanning from kindergartens to higher education institutions. Employing a comprehensive strategy, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha underscores the significance of early childhood development initiatives within kindergartens, advocates for the augmentation of primary and secondary education through the recruitment of qualified educators and modernized curricula, and advocates for the cultivation of academic excellence and collaboration with industries within higher education.

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha 's vision extends to fostering inclusive educational practices, integrating technology into learning environments, and providing lifelong learning opportunities, all geared towards establishing an educational landscape conducive to holistic development and adeptness in navigating contemporary challenges. Notably, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has contributed significantly to educational reform efforts, such as the transformation of Samdach Chea Sim Primary School into one of Cambodia's top ten outstanding schools in 2023. Furthermore, he serves as a trustee on the boards of three national universities located in Battambang, Prey Veng, and Banteay Meanchey, further amplifying his impact and commitment to advancing educational quality nationwide. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha established the Sar Sokha Scholarship as part of a youth development program to provide scholarship opportunities for poor rural youth to study at higher education institutions in Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, with 1746 students between 2018 and 2022. He also contributed to Cambodian sport policy development and supported all types of sports in Cambodia; he founded the Visakha Football Club, the country's most famous football club.

3.2. Commitment to Public Services in Cambodia

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's illustrious career stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to serving the people of Cambodia. Driven by a profound sense of duty and patriotism, he has consistently demonstrated integrity and diligence in his efforts to enhance the welfare and prosperity of the nation's citizens. Throughout his tenure, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has prioritized the advancement of public services as a cornerstone of national development.

At the heart of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership is a genuine commitment to excellence in public service delivery under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior. One of his notable initiatives is the One Window, One Services program (OWOS), which aims to streamline and improve digital access to quality services for the general public. This program seeks to streamline bureaucratic processes and improve service delivery efficiency by consolidating multiple services into a single, easily accessible digital platform. Through his leadership, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has championed the implementation of this program, ensuring that Cambodian citizens have convenient and seamless access to essential services. The One Window One Services program has had a transformative impact on public welfare in Cambodia. By eliminating bureaucratic hurdles and reducing red tape, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has empowered citizens to access government services more easily and efficiently. This streamlined approach not only saves time and resources but also enhances trust in government institutions and fosters a culture of transparency and accountability. Moreover, by prioritizing the needs of the people, H.E. Sar Sokha has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to serving the public interest and improving the lives of all Cambodians.

In conclusion, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's commitment to public service excellence has left an indelible mark on Cambodia's governance landscape. Through initiatives such as the One Window One Services program, he has demonstrated visionary leadership and a steadfast dedication to advancing the nation's welfare and prosperity. By prioritizing efficiency, transparency, and citizen-centricity in public service delivery, H.E. Sar Sokha has reinforced the government's commitment to serving the needs of the people and building a more inclusive and responsive society.

3.4. Strengthening National Security

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has played a pivotal role in enhancing national security and upholding law and order throughout Cambodia. His leadership has been instrumental in implementing the government's safe village-commune policy, which was introduced in August 2010. This policy aimed to achieve five main goals: reducing robbery, curbing drug production, distribution, and use, preventing prostitution or human trafficking, eliminating domestic violence, and eradicating gangsters, gambling, or illegal weapons use.

Under H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's stewardship, the Ministry of Interior has implemented comprehensive strategies to combat various forms of crime, terrorism, and other threats to public safety. These strategies encompass proactive policing measures, intelligence gathering, and community engagement initiatives. By addressing root causes and employing a multi-faceted approach, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has effectively safeguarded the peace and stability that are essential for Cambodia's continued development.

The concerted efforts led by H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha have had a significant impact on national stability and security. By addressing key challenges such as crime, terrorism, and social unrest, he has helped create a conducive environment for economic growth and social progress. Through effective law enforcement and strategic initiatives, Cambodia has witnessed a decline in crime rates and an improvement in overall public safety indicators.

As a result of these efforts, the government's safe village-commune policy has been successfully implemented across the country. Cambodia now boasts a total of 1,652 communes and 14,564 villages, all working towards the shared goal of creating safe and secure communities. This expansion reflects the government's commitment to prioritizing the safety and well-being of its citizens under the leadership of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha.

In conclusion, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership in strengthening national security has been characterized by proactive measures, strategic planning, and community engagement. By implementing the safe village-commune policy and adopting comprehensive strategies to combat crime and terrorism, he has contributed significantly to maintaining law and order across Cambodia. As the country continues to progress, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's steadfast commitment to safeguarding national security remains vital for ensuring a stable and prosperous future for all Cambodians.

3.5. Promoting Good Governance and Decentralization Policies

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's visionary approach extends beyond addressing security concerns; it encompasses a broader goal of promoting good governance and transparency. Recognizing the critical importance of accountable and efficient governance systems, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has spearheaded transformative reforms within the Ministry of the Interior, aiming to enhance its effectiveness and flexibility. His initiatives have been instrumental in creating an environment conducive to sustainable development and inclusive growth, thereby laying the groundwork for progress and prosperity in Cambodia. In line with this vision, the Royal Government of Cambodia issued sub-decree no. 213 on July 28, 2023, concerning the transfer of functions in the education, youth, and sports sector to municipal, district, and khan administrations under the Ministry of Interior. This decree marks a significant step towards decentralization, empowering local administrations to manage key aspects of education, youth, and sports within their respective jurisdictions.

Specifically, the sub-decree identifies three functions transferred to municipal, district, and khan administrations: early childhood education management, primary education management, and non-formal education management. These transfers aim to ensure that decision-making and resource allocation in these vital sectors are more responsive to local needs and priorities. Furthermore, the sub-decree outlines three functions that will continue to be supported centrally: administration support for general secondary education institutions, youth development, and physical education and sports. This hybrid approach strikes a balance between decentralization and centralized support, leveraging the strengths of both to enhance overall governance and service delivery in the education, youth, and sports sectors.

By decentralizing responsibilities, while maintaining centralized support for critical functions, Cambodia is poised to achieve greater efficiency, responsiveness, and inclusivity in its governance structures. This shift towards decentralization aligns with broader efforts to promote good governance and empower local communities, ultimately driving sustainable development and progress throughout the country.

3.6. Empowering Local Communities and Sub-national Democratic Development

As the President of the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development (NCDD), H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha plays a pivotal role in advancing democratic principles and decentralization reforms across Cambodia. Established by Royal Decree number 1208/1429 on December 31, 2008, the NCDD serves as an inter-ministerial mechanism dedicated to promoting democratic development through decentralization and deconcentration initiatives. Under H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership, the NCDD is entrusted with implementing key legislative frameworks, including the Law on Administrative Management of the Capital, Provinces, Municipalities, Districts, and Khans (Organic Law), as well as the Law on Administrative Management of Communes/Sangkats, alongside decentralization and deconcentration policies. This mandate underscores the committee's accountability to the Royal Government of Cambodia and its commitment to fostering effective governance structures at the local level.

Central to H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's approach is the promotion of greater citizen participation and the decentralization of decision-making processes. By empowering local authorities to address the specific needs and aspirations of their communities, he has championed a bottom-up approach to governance that enhances inclusivity and social cohesion. One notable initiative spearheaded by H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha is the promotion of investment registration projects with a capital exceeding $5 million at the provincial level. This strategic move not only encourages economic development in various regions but also reinforces the role of local authorities in facilitating investment and fostering sustainable growth.

Through these efforts, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha and the NCDD are driving progress at the grassroots level, empowering communities to actively participate in shaping their own development trajectories. By strengthening local governance structures and promoting democratic principles, they are laying the foundation for a more inclusive and prosperous Cambodia, where the voices of all citizens are heard and valued.

Who is Dr. Sam Rany? Generated from Google, Gemini in April 2024

Dr. Sam Rany is a prominent figure in Cambodian academia. Here's what I found about him:

  • Currently, he is the Vice-Rector of the National University of Battambang (NUBB) [1].
  • He is also the Cambodian Director of the Confucius Institute of NUBB [1].
  • His area of focus seems to be educational policy and development, particularly for Cambodian universities [3].
  • Dr. Rany recently led a delegation from NUBB to participate in an international project on Smart City Management in Greece [1].
  • He seems to be actively involved in promoting cultural exchange and Chinese language education in Cambodia [1].

If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Rany's work, you can find his contact information on his website [1]. You can also find his research profile on ResearchGate [2].

Who is Dr. Sam Rany, Generated by Microsoft Bing, Copilot, April 2024

 Dr. Sam Rany is a distinguished academic figure in Cambodia. Born on March 11, 1982, in Kampot province, Cambodia, he currently serves as the Vice-Rector of the National University of Battambang (NUBB), a public university in the northwestern part of the country1. Dr. Rany has made significant contributions to education and language studies. Here are some key points about him:

  1. Academic Leadership:

  2. Research and Scholarly Work:

  3. Confucius Institutes in Cambodia:

For more information, you can visit Dr. Sam Rany’s website here1. His work continues to impact education and cross-cultural understanding in Cambodia and beyond. 

Monday 22 April 2024

National University of Battambang Engages in International Smart City Project in Greece

Dr. Sam Rany, Vice-Rector who is a representative of H.E. Sok Khorn, Rector of the National University of Battambang, recently spearheaded a delegation to Thessaly University on April 16-21, 2024 in Greece. The visit centered around participation in the "Smart City ASEAN Learning Network (SCALE)" project meeting and related study tours. This initiative, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, seeks to enhance the capabilities of educators, researchers, operators, policymakers, and students involved in smart city management.

The SCALE project's primary aim is to facilitate the upskilling of current and future professionals in the field, ensuring they are well-prepared to contribute to the development of smart cities. Additionally, it focuses on expanding educational opportunities for both young learners and the existing workforce, a move seen as essential for a just, efficient, and sustainable transition to smarter urban environments.

Cambodia proudly hosts three burgeoning smart cities: Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap. These cities are at the forefront of the country’s push towards modernized, efficient urban planning and management.

For further details on the SCALE project and its objectives, please visit

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Opinion: Confucius Institute Enhances Chinese Language Education, Cultural Exchange in NW Cambodia


Confucius institutes have been playing a vital role in promoting Chinese language education and cultural exchanges, along with enhancing the quality of education in Cambodian higher education institutions for over a decade. Currently, four major Confucius institutes are operational in Cambodia. The first one was co-founded by Jiujiang University and the Royal Academy of Cambodia (CIRAC) on December 22, 2009, an organization that operates under the supervision of the Council of Ministers.

On December 26, 2019, the second Confucius Institute (CINUBB) was established by the Guilin University of Electronic Technology and the National University of Battambang, which is overseen by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport. The Nanjing Vocational University of Industry Technology and the Federation of Khmer Chinese in Cambodia jointly established the fourth one at the Cambodian University of Technology and Science (CICamTech) in November 2022, which is also supervised by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport.

On June 4, 2020, the fourth Chinese higher education institution was founded in Cambodia. Hainan University collaborated with the Royal University of Agriculture at the Royal University of Agriculture to establish the China-Indochina Research and Education Center for Sustainable Development (CIRUA). CIRUA operates under the supervision of the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

Besides CIRUA, other Chinese higher education institutions, such as Lanmei University of Cambodia and Cambodia-China University of Technology and Science, have also been established in Cambodia. China is promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) diplomacy in Cambodia by supporting higher education in science, technology, and information and communication technology (ICT). This initiative reflects Chinese cooperation and contributes to the debate over China's international development model and its growing role as a global leader.

In addition, on April 25, 2018, former Prime Minister Hun Sen and former Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo jointly unveiled Kratie University. The university cost 12 million U.S. dollars, with 10 million coming from the Chinese government and the rest from the Kratie Foundation for Higher Education Organization.

According to the 2023 Southeast Asia Confucius Institutes Joint Conference report, Southeast Asia has 62 Confucius Institutes (classrooms) as of July 2023, with Thailand having the most at 23—the highest number in ASEAN. The size of the Chinese diaspora population and the perception that China's economic influence provides Mandarin speakers with more job opportunities are the most apparent reasons why Mandarin language learning has grown in popularity in ASEAN rather than in the West.

Southeast Asia is home to approximately 30 million of the estimated 40 million ethnic Chinese diaspora. While Confucius Institutes are lauded for their contributions to education and cultural exchange, they have also been criticized in several countries for concerns about academic freedom, propaganda, and influence operations. The perception and impact of these institutes vary significantly from one country to another. On the other hand, Cambodia can benefit from establishing Confucius institutes that can provide Chinese language education to students to increase employment and economic growth in Cambodia.

The Confucius Institute, a non-profit public educational organization affiliated with the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Education, is critical in promoting Chinese language education and cultural exchange in Cambodian higher education institutions. The Centre for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC) and the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF) provide technical and financial support for C.I.s around the world.

The Confucius Institute has seven significant roles. Firstly, its primary focus is on teaching the Chinese language to Cambodian students. It offers classes led by certified and experienced Chinese language instructors, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. This helps Cambodian students learn Chinese and prepares them for careers in business and diplomacy, where Chinese language proficiency is increasingly valued.

Secondly, besides teaching students, these institutes also frequently train Cambodian Chinese language teachers, contributing to developing a long-term model for Chinese language education in the country.

Thirdly, they organize and facilitate various cultural exchange programs, including Chinese cultural festivals, art exhibitions, music and dance performances, and other events that showcase Chinese culture. These events help enhance mutual understanding and cultural exchange between China and Cambodia.

Fourth, they provide resources such as books, journals, and electronic materials to support Chinese language education and offer scholarships or funding opportunities for Cambodian students to study in China, fostering educational exchanges.

Fifth, some Confucius Institutes engage in academic and research collaborations between Cambodian and Chinese higher education institutions. This includes joint research projects, conferences, seminars, and the exchange of academic staff and scholars.

Sixth, facilitating international collaboration: These institutes facilitate broader international collaboration and partnership in higher education by serving as a bridge between Chinese and Cambodian educational institutions.

Finally, promoting understanding of Chinese policies and developments: through various programs and seminars, the Confucius Institutes also provide insights into Chinese policies, economic developments, and societal changes, which is crucial for countries like Cambodia with strong economic and diplomatic ties with China.

In the meantime, I'd like to share an achievement of one of the Confucius Institutes in Cambodia, CINUBB. The institute has been instrumental in training Chinese language human resources in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh, benefitting more than 6,165 students.

It has also helped to strengthen the friendship between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the People's Republic of China, which has a rich history. CINUBB has 21 full-time international Chinese language teachers, most of whom have bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees and extensive overseas teaching experience.

In collaboration with Battambang's Provincial Department of Education, Youth, and Sports, the Confucius Institute has established 18 Chinese language classes at some high schools, including Pich Chenda High School and Sdao Santepheap High School, as well as higher education institutions, the 5th Military Headquarter Region, and Chinese enterprises, providing Chinese language training at all levels. Currently, more than 200 students are pursuing a Bachelor of Chinese Literature degree at the National Universities of Battambang and Meanchey.

Over the last four years, the Confucius Institute has organized 160 cultural exchange activities and provided opportunities for Chinese language lovers in Cambodia to showcase their talents, including the Spring Festival, Zhuang Festival, Khmer New Year Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Cultural Experience Festival, and teaching activities, including a Chinese poetry recitation competition, a "Chinese Bridge" competition for university students, and a Chinese singing competition. These activities have served as a link between international Chinese language education in northwestern Cambodia and China, fostering cultural exchanges and promoting friendship between our two nations.

National and international media both report on these activities. In particular, the Confucius Institute at the National University of Battambang has received several outstanding awards from well-known Chinese newspapers. Regarding educational exchanges between China and Cambodia, the Confucius Institute is dedicated to enhancing Cambodia's national education system through exchanging knowledge and technology.  Cambodia's Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport, Hang Chuon Naron, and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, Wang Wentian signed a memorandum of understanding on November 9, 2022, to pilot Chinese courses in some public schools, with implementation scheduled in 2023.

Furthermore, the Confucius Institute contributes to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative. On January 15, 2024, the National Institute of Education trained 100 Cambodian teachers who will teach Chinese in Cambodian public schools. As part of the first phase, 20 public secondary schools teach Chinese. More than 100 Cambodian educational institutions have trained more than 100,000 students in the Chinese language, according to the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport statement.

In the future, the Confucius Institute of the National University of Battambang will increase the number of Chinese classrooms and teaching sites open to public and private schools and enterprises, integrate Chinese with other related majors, do substantial work for students' employment, and improve their labour skills. CINUBB will contribute to achieving the Belt and Road Initiatives and mutual understanding of both leaders.

Remarkably, Prime Minister Hun Sen and President Xi Jinping signed an agreement on Cambodia-China relations and cooperation in February 2023, including the launch of the "Diamond Cooperation" and the establishment of the "Industrial and Technological Corridor" and "Fish and Rice Corridor." Prime Minister Hun Manet and Chinese leaders, especially President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang, exchanged views on propelling the Year of People-to-People Exchange in 2024 into a productive year with concrete outcomes by attracting additional Chinese tourists and more direct flights from China to Cambodia, particularly Siem Reap.

The fish and rice corridor initiative aims to enhance agricultural trade between the two countries, focusing on products like fish, rice, tropical fruits, vegetables, and various agricultural inputs, including fertilizers, pesticides, and animal feed in northwestern Cambodia, particularly in the Tonle Sap Lake area, to develop modern ecological agriculture near Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake by surface area.

Former Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on March 14, 2023, that the government had designated four provinces—Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Pailin—as Cambodia's fourth economic pole. Cambodian Tourism Minister Sok Soken said the Southeast Asian country recorded 5.4 million international tourists, including some 540,000 Chinese tourists, in 2023. According to Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism, China was Cambodia's most significant source of international tourist arrivals in the pre-pandemic era.

The kingdom received 2.36 million Chinese tourists in 2019, accounting for 35.7 percent of the total international tourist arrivals and generating about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in revenue. In conclusion, I firmly believe that C.I.s will continue to contribute to providing quality Chinese language education for Cambodians and to be a bridge to facilitate cultural and people-to-people exchanges for mutual benefits and Cambodia's economic growth, not only in Northwestern Cambodia but also in the whole country.

Sam Rany is a Vice-Rector of the National University of Battambang (NUBB) and Co-Director of the Confucius Institute of the National University of Battambang (CINUBB).

China's Confucius Institutes flourish in ASEAN after West's freeze-out (西方冷落后中国孔子学院在东盟蓬勃发展)

  Geopolitical baggage less of a factor, while learning Chinese is seen as a smart move 地缘政治包袱影响较小,学习中文被视为明智之举