- Posts: 41770
- Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:13 am
- Reputation: 2443
- Location: CEO Newsroom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Concerns China could gain a naval foothold in the country has caused Washington to rethink its previous punitive stance
US-Cambodia relations are at their lowest ebb in decades over an anti-democratic clampdown, suspension of bilateral military drills and frequent gusts of less-than-diplomatic anti-American rhetoric.
But while the US has dangled sanctions and withdrawal of Cambodia’s preferential trade privileges in punitive response, signs are emerging that Washington is taking a softer, more nuanced approach to ease tensions.
The reason: reports that China has secured exclusive access to a Cambodian naval base, an alleged secretive deal denied by Prime Minister HE but if true would have big strategic implications for the region, including in the South China Sea.
Cambodia is squarely at the center of a US-China contest for influence in the region. While Washington had made neat inroads into the country, those gains were reversed in 2017 when HE’s government dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), providing an opening for China to consolidate its hold over the country.
While the US has suspended aid and sanctioned at least one Cambodian official, its becoming clearer that Washington is pursuing two clearly delineated policies towards Cambodia, one hardline towards HE’s government and his political allies, and another softer tack towards the military, civil society groups and the wider population.
In this good cop, bad cop approach, the US Congress is pursuing tough tactics while the White House and its controlled agencies are taking what some see as more subtle and sophisticated approaches.
Cambodian Prime Minister HE (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a recent bilateral meeting. Photo: Facebook
Congressional concerns about China’s rising sway over Cambodia were made abundantly clear in a recent US Senate Appropriations Bill, which among other things urged the Donald Trump administration to implement targeted sanctions “to demonstrate the costs associated with becoming a vassal state of [China].”
The same bill said: “Cambodia poses a growing strategic threat to its neighbors, specifically by the government of Cambodia’s reported agreement to allow the PRC to use Ream Naval Base as a military outpost to cover the southern flank of the South China Sea.
“The Committee believes that the selfish interests of [HE] to establish dynastic succession in Cambodia” has “played a significant factor in the dissolution of the CNRP, imprisonment and exile of its leaders, and growing strategic alliance with [China].”
That was clear reference to allegations that HE’s government has quiet plans to allow Chinese troops to base inside Cambodia, though any permanent basing of foreign troops would violate local laws as currently written.
HE and his government have spent the last year denying and discrediting allegations that plans are afoot to allow China to position troops on Cambodian soil, including at the Ream Naval Base that opens on the Gulf of Thailand.
US Vice President Mike Pence first raised Washington’s concerns about China’s naval base ambitions in Cambodia in an October 2018 private letter addressed to HE and first reported by Asia Times.
But a newly mooted Southeast Asia Strategy Act, made public on September 25, seems more likely to inform future US policy towards Cambodia and the wider region than piling on punitive measures.
The Act, if passed, will require the State Department and other federal departments to establish “a comprehensive strategy for engagement with Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).”
Full article: https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/10/artic ... -cambodia/
Have a story or an anonymous news tip for CEO? Need advertising? CONTACT US
Cambodia Expats Online is the most popular community in the country. JOIN TODAY
Follow CEO on social media:
- Posts: 2607
- Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:44 am
- Reputation: 1314
- Location: Phnom Penh
- Posts: 39
- Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2019 10:32 pm
- Reputation: 23
- Location: Phnom Penh - kampong Spue
Dear America people from government please let us be ourselves and not try control the.proud. My grandfather house was smashed by a American B -52 Country of Cambodia. Sky pirates in Lon Nol time..
Thank Lin C
If the northern neighbor's economy dries up, maybe sooner.
- Similar Topics
- Last post
- 3 Replies
- 717 Views
Last post by CEOCambodiaNews
Understanding the History of Cambodian-Thai Relations 1950-2020
- 4 Replies
- 307 Views
Last post by SternAAlbifrons
- 16 Replies
- 7122 Views
Last post by Dangerous Dave
- 6 Replies
- 1971 Views
Last post by Mr Know It All
- 194 Replies
- 36711 Views
Last post by CEOCambodiaNews
- 2 Replies
- 1185 Views
Last post by Bitte_Kein_Lexus