The Foreign Affairs Ministry said yesterday that Cambodia’s foreign policy faces huge challenges from foreign interference under the pretext of human rights, the South China Sea dispute and the trade war between the US and China.
In its annual report, the ministry noted that the government has to tackle these challenges diplomatically and at the same time protect national interest.
“Cambodia faced interference from foreign countries which cited alleged human rights violations but defended this by showing that it practices the rule of law.” it said. “Cambodia also has to keep track on developments in a trade war between the US and China, the unsettled South China Sea dispute and global terrorist activities in order to maintain political stability and social order in the Kingdom.”
Ouch Borith, a ministry secretary of state, yesterday said Cambodia needs to respond to these on her own and through Asean mechanisms.
He noted Cambodian needs to uphold its status as a non-aligned country and practice non-interference in accordance with the Kingdom’s constitution and Asean’s principles.
In the report, the ministry said Cambodia has embassies in 63 countries and has diplomatic ties with 174.
The ministry added last year was a rough year for diplomatic relations with the US which criticised the dissolution of the CNRP in November 2017 and the subsequent landslide victory by the CPP in 2018 national elections.
Chheang Vannarith, Asian Vision Institute president, said yesterday that Cambodia is concerned about international hotspots that could affect its political stability.
“Cambodia is concerned about issues such as security tensions in the Middle East, the unsettled South China Sea dispute, India-Pakistan tensions and rising non-traditional security challenges such as climate change, terrorism, pandemic diseases and water security in the Mekong,” he said.
He added that the world is becoming more fragile and volatile, evidenced by complex and unpredictable structural competition between major powers, escalating tensions between some countries and emerging security hotspots across the globe.
Mr Vannarith noted that in 2019, Cambodian foreign policy was healthy and the Kingdom played an important role on the international stage.
“Cambodia contributed to multilateralism by playing an active role in Asean and also attending a number of multiparty conferences. Last year saw strong bilateral ties between Cambodia and Eastern-European countries, who were old allies and partners of the Kingdom during the State of Cambodia regime. Cambodia was looking to restore these historic relations as well as [boost] relations with some countries in Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan,” he added.