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The US is bullying Cambodia because it will not toe its line on China

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Cambodia is a country with a tragic and turbulent recent history. Its contemporary politics are defined by the horrific memories of the Khmer Rouge, an intra-Communist proxy conflict backed by China and Vietnam, and a short-lived return to democracy and constitutional monarchy. It is just one stark example of many countries that have struggled to find a stable form of existence following colonialism and independence.

This has led to Hun Sen, the country’s leader since 1985, consolidating his 36-year tenure over the state. In doing so, he has wrestled away from Vietnam’s long-standing hold over his country and pivoted Cambodia towards Beijing.

Cambodia, as a small, poor and authoritarian-leaning state, is arguably the most pro-China state in Southeast Asia today, which is significant in the wake of America doubling down in the region to try to counter Beijing. As of last year, China constitutes 70% of Cambodia’s infrastructure investment and 45% of its foreign direct investment overall.

Sceptical of neighbouring Hanoi and having only a small coastline, Phnom Penh is not a party to the South China Sea disputes and subsequently has no need to hedge military ties with the US as some maritime regional countries have done. Instead, it has been happy to embrace China as a vehicle of political support and economic development. The two countries signed a bilateral trade deal last year.

As one can imagine, the........

© RT.com

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