The influences of the US and China have begun to overshadow Vietnam, in what could prove a postiive development, Cambodia's leading opposition lawmaker says.
“Cambodia is in the strategic zone, so all superpower countries want to have influence over Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer.
At the same time, he said, neither country wants to see Cambodia “falling into the other's hand.”
Meanwhile, China and Vietnam have a number of competing interests, including border and sea disputes.
“China does not want Cambodia to become a province or colony of Vietnam at all,” he said. “That's why we see China coming to invest and to escalate its influence in Cambodia. As I understand it, China is a positive element for Cambodia.”
When larger powers compete for Cambodia, it has a positive impact, he said. “If they don't pay attention, they forget about Cambodia, how we are suffering.”
On the other hand, if only one power takes interest in Cambodia, such as China during the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia doesn't benefit. When Cambodia was under the influence of Vietnam, following the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, “Cambodia suffered too,” he said.
“But if we have a lot of countries as friends, we can find a balance in the relationships...so we can change positions and not allow any one country to freely oppress us,” he said. “Now I believe that Vietnam's influence will be curtailed, because the US has a strong influence over Vietnam itself, and China also is increasing its influence over Cambodia. So we can try to move away from an influence of Vietnam that is too strong.”
With its Soviet backing long gone, Vietnam will look to the US to resist China, he said. “And I believe that the US still maintains the stance of democracy and wants Cambodia to become a real democratic country that fairly respects human rights.”