Archive

‘Unprecedented’ Cambodia, US Ties

King Sihamoni of Cambodia diplomatic papers from newly appointed US Ambassador Carol Rodley, 2009.
King Sihamoni of Cambodia diplomatic papers from newly appointed US Ambassador Carol Rodley, 2009.
Men KimsengVOA Khmer

Cambodia and the US are experiencing their strongest ties in 60 years, according to historians and other experts, in what has been a relationship with a lot of ups and downs.

Diplomatic ties were cut twice, in 1965 and 1975, and the countries were torn apart by the Cold War. Relations were strained further after the Cambodian People’s Party seized power in fighting in 1997. And the two countries occasionally clash on issues of human rights and democracy.

Despite all this, ties are growing.

“From economic growth projects to cultural exchange programs to military cooperation, the level of substantive collaboration is unprecedented,” Kenneth Foster, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, told VOA Khmer. “In no time over the last 60 years have our two countries coordinated on a daily basis as much as we do now.”

Kenton Clymer, a historian of Cambodia-US relations, said Cambodia’s Cold War position and the US’s inability to “forge a policy” damaged the relationship. He suggested a non-ideological path of diplomacy to ensure a long-term relationship.


“It it is hard to predict the issues that will arise in the next, say, 60 years will be,” he said in a phone interview. “All I can say is that as long as both sides follow an intelligent and thoughtful diplomacy, that will prevent or at least mitigate problems that will arise.”

The US is now one of the biggest donors to Cambodia, providing development assistance topping $40 million per year. And unlike aid in the 1970s, which went to war-fighting, this aid is for development.

“Nowadays, cooperation between our two countries focuses on economic development, improving democracy, human rights [and] counterterrorism and fighting drugs and human trafficking,” Cambodia’s ambassador to the US, Hem Heng, told VOA Khmer in a recent interview.


Still, there are areas where Cambodia does not meet US expectations.

“Issues like human rights, democracy, and corruption are not properly addressed,” said Kem Sokha, president of the opposition Human Rights Party. “Whenever the US raises these issues, the government of Cambodia always objects. There are still disagreements over these big issues.”

Kem Sokha said Cambodia’s leaders often talk about US invasion and past mistakes, “but never talk about those of China.”

“It is obvious that current leaders lean to another side that is still contrary to the US stance,” he added.

The most recent strain came in December 2009, when Cambodia sent 20 Uighur Muslim asylum seekers back to China, in what some groups said was a violation of international obligations.

The US suspended a military aid package as a result, but there has been little other public fallout. China followed with a military aid package of its own.

That development disappointed some.

“It would be good if Cambodia could learn from a rich and democratic country, not a communist one,” said Yap Kimtung, president of the group Cambodia-Americans for Human Rights and Democracy.

However, it has not derailed the relationship, and a stream of celebrations are planned as July continues.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one
Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Thai Leader on Two-Day Diplomatic Visit to Cambodiai
X
30 October 2014
The head of Thailand’s military-controlled government begins a two-day visit to Cambodia today, in a bid to improve diplomatic ties with Cambodia in talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials. Premier Prayuth Chan-ocha also hopes to improve cooperation along the borders and “clear up controversies of the past,” a spokesman for Hun Sen told reporters Thursday. (Kong Sothanarith, Phnom Penh)

English with Mani & Mori

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Let the Cat out of the Bag (Movie: My Sister's Keeper)i
X
27 October 2014
You can say, "I'm so mad at you. I can't believe you 'let the cat out of the bag'. I can't believe you told him I have a crush on him. How could you?" What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to www.youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish or www.khmer.voanews.com/maniandmori. To contact Mani & Mori - write to them at maniandmori@gmail.com.
Video

Video Let the Cat out of the Bag (Movie: My Sister's Keeper)

You can say, "I'm so mad at you. I can't believe you 'let the cat out of the bag'. I can't believe you told him I have a crush on him. How could you?" What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish. To contact Mani & Mori - write to them at maniandmori@gmail.
Video

Video Face the Music (Movie: Yes Man)

You can say, "You lied, and lied, but this time you got caught. It's time you 'face the music'. It's time you confess and tell the truth." What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish. To contact Mani & Mori - write to them at maniandmori@gmail.com.
Video

Video Hit the Nail on the Head (Movie: Inside Job)

You can say, "The professor 'hit the nail on the head' when she said, that we cannot demand respect, respect must be earned and not given freely." What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to www.youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish or www.khmer.voanews.com/maniandmori. To contact Mani & Mori
Video

Video Speak of the Devil (Movie: Easy A)

You can say, "Speaking of the devil, there she is! Hey, we were just talking about you a moment ago." What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish. To contact Mani & Mori - write to them at maniandmori@gmail.com.
See more >>>