PHNOM PENH —
Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on Asean countries and China to maintain dialogue on the South China Sea.
In a speech delivered in China on a recent visit, Hun Sen said the contentious issue, where several Asean countries are in disputes with China, should be solved under existing mechanisms between China and Asean, including a so-called “declaration of conduct” to prevent military conflict.
“This is a very complicated issue for the countries that are our partners,” he said.
Countries locked in disputes with China included Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. They have called for multi-lateral solutions through Asean. China, meanwhile, has an interest in maintaining a relationship with Southeast Asia.
Ou Virak, head of the think tank Future Forum, told VOA Khmer that Cambodia should not get deeply involved. It can encourage discussion and diplomacy, he said. “If Cambodia does anything else besides this, it’s very risky for Cambodia.”
Cambodia’s history can be a lesson, he said. In the late 1960s, it had no clear foreign policy, and was unsure how to work with a powerful country like the US, which at the time fought a protracted war in Vietnam. “The Cambodian government should learn from history,” he said.