29 December 2014
PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Last week’s state visit by President Truong Tan Sang to Cambodia was a significant step in consolidating bilateral ties between the two countries and peoples although there are remaining challenges to be tackled, particularly migration and border issues.
King Norodom Sihanomi called the visit as another milestone in maintaining and deepening the bilateral cooperation in all areas. Cambodia highly respects the traditional friendship and partnership between the two neighbors.
President Sang emphasized the importance of the bilateral friendship. He asserted Vietnam would commit to work together with Cambodia to implement the policy of “good neighbor, traditional friendship, sustainable and comprehensive partnership.”
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) wholeheartedly appreciates the support given by Vietnam in toppling the Khmer Rouge regime which killed about two million people, or one quarter of the total Cambodian population at the time.
National Assembly President Heng Samrin and CPP Vice-President Say Chhum reiterated that Cambodia would not be where it is today without the generous support and sacrifice from Vietnam. Cambodia remains grateful to the people of Vietnam for what they have done for Cambodians.
January 7th, although it is a political contentious event, is the day to remember the killing fields and to celebrate the victory over the Khmer Rouge. It is carefully organized to raise the public image of the ruling CPP.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also expressed his commitment to nurture bilateral friendship during his meeting with President Sang. Both sides committed to firmly stand on their positions to not allow opposing groups use their territories against the other, and to accelerate implementation of bilateral agreements, particularly border demarcation.
However, the main opposition group in Cambodia remains skeptical of the strategic intentions of Vietnam. They view Vietnam as the core threat to Cambodian security, territorial integrity, and identity. Such perception and approach are politically and socially constructed to challenge the old establishment under the leadership of the CPP.
This dangerous move needs to be neutralized, especially within the context of regional integration and community building. ASEAN Member States should not view each other as threats. On the other hand, they need to regard each other friends and partners and to work together to promote mutual understanding and trust.
Neighbors cannot be changed. There is a need to peacefully live and develop together. More responsibility rests on the bigger neighbors in assuring that they do not have intentions, or take actions, that threaten the security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of their smaller neighbors.
All political factions in Cambodia need to work together to find a common foreign policy towards neighbors based on principles of international law. Raising the banner of nationalism against a neighbor is not really healthy in promoting regional peace and stability.
Political and strategic trust is the cornerstone of peace and stability. It needs to be earned through frequent and frank communication and dialogues at different levels. People-to-people ties are crucial in forging long-term friendship and partnership. Cambodia and Vietnam must continue working together to achieve these goals.
Apart from political issues, bilateral economic relations remarkably improved over the last decade. Such deepening economic integration significantly constitute the core pillar of Cambodia-Vietnam relations.
There are currently 128 investment projects by Vietnam in Cambodia, with a total investment capital of $3.36 billion. Vietnam now ranks 5th among more than 50 countries invested in Cambodia.
It is estimated that the foreign direct investment from Vietnam will reach $6 billion in 2020. Investment capital is expected to reach $4 billion in 2015.
Bilateral trade volume reached a new height in 2014, with the accumulated trade volume of $3.5 billion. It is estimated that $5 billion will be achieved by 2015, and $6.5 billion by 2020.
Strong and healthy bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam serves the interests of both peoples. It is win-win cooperation. Such networks of bilateral ties constitute the foundation of building a stronger ASEAN Community.
To realize the vision of an ASEAN Community, with the central role of shaping the regional architecture, Cambodia and Vietnam must work closer together to fully implement regional community blueprints and prepare action plans for the post-2015 ASEAN. ASEAN Community building is a journey which requires full participation from every member.