Monday, 28 January 2008

Where Cambodia Stands on International Arena?
Sunday, January 27, 2008
By Khmer Quorum

International Relations strongly depends on power of individualnation that participate in the world arena. Without sufficient power,a nation cannot survive in the world of constant struggle. Power canhelp to persuade aggressors to stay away from each other. Powerincludes military, economic, political, and psychological factors thateach country can use to balance each other. In this sense, countriesgenerally pursue their own national interest; there is no any countrycan afford to behave as if a Bodhisattva (Buddhist Saint) in this real world.

Many countries use diplomacy to search and develop a commoninterest so that they can work together to achieve their common goalproductively. However, sometime the common interest doesn't last longenough to keep them together, a marriage of convenience is over.During the Cold War, China and the US became the biggest supporters ofthe Cambodian Coalition Government Forces which fought to liberatethe country from Vietnamese occupation backed by the Soviet Union.When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, China and the US ceasedsupporting the Cambodian fighters because they had no longer fearedthe Soviet's threat in Southeast Asia.Then, China and the US's common interest to help the Cambodian resistant forces also no longer existed.

Now the US starts to see China as a great threat to its interest in Southeast Asia, and it looks forward to its former enemy, Vietnam as its potential futureally to contain the Chinese growing power in the region. BothPresidents Clinton and Bush had visited Vietnam in order to cement theirrelationship with their new friend. Recently, Vietnam openly spokeagainst China's aggression over the Spradly Island where Vietnamregards as its own sovereign island for centuries. However, Vietnamtries to avoid any action that leads to opened conflict with Chinabecause Vietnam still remembers its nightmare on a border war with Chinain 1979 while the Soviet was reluctant to intervene on its side.

Meanwhile, China now sees Cambodia as a springboard to convey its power and influence into the region. In 2005, during an official visit to Cambodia, Chinese Premier Wei Jia Bao had pledged $600 million economic aid to Cambodia without any condition. China becomes the second largest investor in the country only behind SouthKorea. Both governments frequently have exchanged their high levelofficial visits. There is no doubt that China wants Cambodia to stayin its economic and political influence by using generous aid to buythe heart and mind of the Hun Sen's regime. Now, Cambodia has falleninto the sphere of an old Cold War again. Vietnam and China havestrongly supported Hun Sen's undemocratic government while the West isstruggling to restore democracy into Cambodia.

Without Vietnam and China's interferences, the seed ofdemocracy that planted by the UN and International Community in 1993would grow speedily and fruitfully in the country. In term ofInternational Relations, Cambodia lacks of military capability,economic strength, and even psychological determination that could beused as a leverage to balance itself with its neighbors and otherworld powers. Cambodia is rated by the World Bank as among the poorestand weakest nation in the world, and it has continuously struggled tosurvive itself from its more powerful neighbors, especially Vietnam.

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