Cambodia’s relations with China, US not incompatible

As the competition between the US and China for influence is heating up, Cambodia cannot discount the importance of its relations with either of the two despite the extreme pressure to do so. This is not only because of Cambodia’s constitutional adherence to neutrality and non-alignment, but also because of the potential impact upon its national interests should Cambodia opt to disengage from either Beijing or Washington.

In bilateral terms, for good or for bad, both China and the US have played a big part in Cambodia’s contemporary history, and therefore their disengagement from Cambodia is simply not an option. Both countries have invested a lot in Cambodia, and not just in monetary-value terms. Nor is tangible cooperation confined to the military sphere and/or vague grand visions without clear definitions and methodology, leaving everybody to guess or giving space for both China and the US to accuse each other.

It is a fact that Cambodia can never sever ties with either of these powers. It is in the national interest of Cambodia to look for complementarities between the two.

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