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9DASHLINE — Diverting from China: Cambodia’s foreign policy in a new era

9DASHLINE — Diverting from China: Cambodia’s foreign policy in a new era
Chhay Lim and Kimpor Try. While there is leeway for Cambodia to hedge and pursue an independent foreign policy, the new government under Hun Manet has no choice but to continue diversifying strategic and economic partners.

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Cambodia's foreign policy has been closely aligned with China in recent years, with the two countries enjoying a close relationship and extensive governmental interaction. However, this alignment is not solely due to geopolitical tensions between the United States and China, but also driven by Cambodia's domestic priorities, including the need for economic resources and political stability. The ruling elite in Cambodia views China's economic assistance as crucial for the country's development and security, and has sought closer ties with China to fulfill these needs. Despite this, Cambodia has also been working to diversify its partnerships and pursue an independent foreign policy stance on the global stage, including developing relationships with other countries such as Japan, Australia, and South Korea. Cambodia's efforts to contribute to regional unity and its independent foreign policy stance have been demonstrated through its hosting of the 2022 ASEAN Chairmanship and its strong stance on the Russia-Ukraine war. As Cambodia continues to navigate great power politics, it remains committed to pursuing a balanced and pragmatic approach to diplomacy.