Assessment of Cambodian Foreign Policy in 2011

1.    How do you observe Cambodia’s overall foreign policy in 2011?

It was quite active and dynamic in a sense that Cambodia had played smart with regards to Cambodia-Thailand border conflict by exercising both multilateral and bilateral mechanism. Diplomatically, Cambodia got a lot of points in this respect.Cambodia, as a member of ASEAN, has contributed to the creation of a level playing field with all countries in the region and the world at large in order to create a dynamic and win-win strategic and economic equilibrium with equi-promixity in the region.

Cambodia has been successful in using its foreign policy to serve its national development interests through the increasing provision of development assistance cooperation from the donor communities especially China, the inflow of foreign direct investment, and increase trade relations within the region and beyond.

Cambodia is the first country in ASEAN to promote preventive diplomacy and approaches to conflict in the region. Such move reflects the urgent need, from Cambodian perspective, to have an effective regional conflict resolution mechanism.

2.    What are the strong points/advantages for the country? How about the negative one?

Strong points: can maintain independence and neutrality in the context of increasing complexity and competition among the superpowers in the region. have national unity, consensus, and consistence in foreign policy.Weak points: lack of research capacity in foreign policy in order to be more proactive not reactive as the current situation. lack of human resources in implementing certain foreign policy.

3.    What were the obstacles/challenges for Cambodia in 2011?

Last year, Cambodia’s foreign policy was facing with the border conflict with Thailand, natural disaster/flood, the increasing tension in the South China Sea, the management of the Mekong River, the controversial Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and the global campaign against landmines.

 4.    How does Cambodia manage her foreign policy with super powers: US, China (biased or neutral…)?

Cambodian foreign policy falls under the constitution 1993 which clearly states about the neutrality, non-alliance, and independence of its foreign policy. With regards to its relations with superpowers: China and US, Cambodia has struggled to remain neutral and earn good relations from both countries. While China is more active in economic relations, US is more active in defense cooperation.

 5.    Any outside factor that helps frames Cambodia’s foreign policy?

Cambodia’s foreign policy is always shaped by its geography, history, economic realities, domestic politics, and leadership. In addition, It is also shaped by regional and global realities and changes.

 6.    What advantages for Cambodia’s close approach to China?

Cambodia tries to keep its balance or dynamic equilibrium among the superpowers. But sometimes, it can be seen from the outsiders’ point-of-view as closer to China. As China is emerging to be the regional and world superpower, having good relations with China will serve Cambodian interests in the long term. China will be the main market for Cambodian products. Cambodia can be an economic corridor for Chinese firms when it comes to outsourcing strategy. The ultimate goal of foreign policy is economic development so who can serve this depending on objective reality out there.

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