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Leaked Ruling Party Platform Shows Desire for Closer Relations With China

China's Premier Li Keqiang, left, pulls a symbol of China-Cambodia Heart Journey, together with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, center, during a signing ceremony at Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Cambodia and China on Th

The document shows that the party intends to move closer to China while remaining on high alert for any attempt by foreign governments to agitate for a popular uprising.

A leaked document obtained by VOA Khmer has outlined the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s political platform ahead of this summer’s general election.

The 46-page document, the CPP’s five-year plan, shows that the party intends to move closer to China while remaining on high alert for any attempt by foreign governments to agitate for a popular uprising.

The plan says that the CPP expects to position itself within a multi-polar world where the superpowers “compete for supreme hegemony and for influence on various fronts regardless [of whether] it is political, economic, military, technological, scientific, or cultural.”

The CPP says it will implement a process of “reform” in its foreign policy from “traditional diplomacy” towards “economic diplomacy”.

“[Cambodia will] continue to adhere with the ‘One-China Principle’ and recognize the China’s dynamic rise and growth as a contribution to the economic prosperity and the strengthening of peace and stability in the region and the globe as a whole,” it reads.

“We will heighten serious caution to any attempts to apply color Revolution from external actors with the aim of toppling the legitimate Royal Government by opposing foreign interference in the internal affairs of Cambodia and work to retaliate against their dark tricks,” the document reads.

In November, the government won a case against the country’s main opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which saw the party dissolved. Its leader, Kem Sokha, was also jailed on treason charges over an alleged plot to overthrow Hun Sen involving the United States.

Over the past several months the government has continued its crackdown on political dissent and civil society groups as anti-American sentiment has grown among the ruling class.

In contrast, Beijing has continued to cement its ties with Phnom Penh, signing dozens of infrastructure deals worth billions of dollars. The two allies are due to hold military drills next month and China has donated some 100 tanks to the Cambodian military.

China has come out strongly in defense of the Cambodian crackdown, saying the government’s actions are necessary to maintain peace and stability.

Suos Yara, a CPP spokesman, said the reference to foreign powers’ “dark tricks” in the five-year plan was not referring to any nation in particular. “Any country coming to us with respect, we will respect them. Any country that attempts to mistreat us, we will clash with them in response.”

A Chinese Embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Miguel Chanco, an analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), said the new policy platform had merely confirmed what was already known: that Cambodia was firmly in China’s camp.

“I think the notion of shifting away from ‘traditional diplomacy’ is in reference to a general move away in Cambodia's foreign policy from the long-standing relationships within the world of Western donors, guided in part by China's growing influence and the US's relative decline on the global stage,” he added.