Japan in Cambodia’s Delicate Hedging Strategy

The failure of ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh in July 2012 has been constantly used to build the misleading narrative that Cambodia is China’s ‘de facto proxy’ in Southeast Asia and an ASEAN spoiler. Moreover, It is widely reported that Chinese largesse has irreversibly pushed Phnom Penh into Beijing’s orbit.

Such a perception does not reflect the whole and reality of Cambodia’s foreign policy direction. The fact of the matter is that although China has become Cambodia’s most important partner both from strategical and economic lenses as I detailed in my earlier article, the Cambodian government has engaged in a delicate hedging strategy with the objective of promoting the economic prosperity, foreign policy autonomy and strategic space of Cambodia.

The strengthening of Cambodia-Japan relations is the unambiguous indication of Cambodia’s hedging enterprise. Close observers of the recent developments of the bilateral relationship would notice the key elements of Cambodia’s hedging dynamics.

Cheunboran Chanborey is a Member of Board of Directors, Asian Vision Institute.

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