41 years after victory over the Pol Pot genocide regime, supported by the Vietnamese Communist Party, its military and the Vietnamese people, under the reign of the Cambodian King, the leader-ship of Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the management of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia has achieved several profound accomplishments. Now, Cambodia has one of the fastest economic growths in the world, as well as political security, social order, solidarity, prosperity and stability. The position of Cambodia in the international stage has improved steadily.
Recently, the leaders of the two countries agreed to continue coordinating the implementation of the joint declarations, and cooperation agreements between the two sides, including the promotion of extensive information among the people, especially the next generation about Cambodia-Vietnam relations; well-organised historical holidays in the two-country relations; well implementing the Protocol and the Cooperation Plan on National Defense and Security; actively preparing to be ready to organise the 18th Joint Committee Meeting, the 11th Conference on Cooperation and Develop-ment of the Cambodia-Vietnam border provinces as soon as possible; to have specific solutions to remove difficulties to bring economic cooperation between the two countries towards sustainable development. Cambodia-Vietnam have firmly committed to join hands in fighting the pandemic of COVID-19 while maintaining trade activities and easing goods transport along the common border.
The leaders of the two countries also highly appreciated the historical significance of the signing of two legal documents recognising the achievements (84%) of demarcation of the land border be-tween the two countries, and at the same time agreed to accelerate completing the necessary proce-dures for the two above documents to take effect soon and continue to negotiate to settle the re-maining border areas that have not been demarcated, to build a peaceful Cambodia-Vietnam border.
The leaders of the two countries also affirmed that they will coordinate closely, effectively, and support each other in international and regional issues, especially within the framework of ASEAN cooperation and ASEAN-led mechanisms, United Nations, WTO, ASEM, and Mekong Sub-region cooperation mechanisms.
In terms of economy, Vietnam’s investment in Cambodia has achieved positive results. Up to now, Vietnam has 184 investment projects in Cambodia with total capital about $2.76 billion, ranking third among 78 countries and territories that Vietnam has invested in (after Russia and Laos). Vi-etnam started investments in Cambodia from 2005 and from 2015 up to now has achieved up to 10 projects with total capital between $30-70 million per year, mainly in agriculture, banking and tele-communications. The two countries also witnessed several developments in other sectors such as tourism, people-to-people exchange and culture, education-training and health collaboration. With a long-time cozy bilateral relation in history and the goodwill from both countries, bilateral relations will continue to develop and reach a new high level in the future.
It is worth recalling that, 41 years ago (07-01-1979 – 07-01-2020), Cambodian troops and Cambo-dian people with the help of the Vietnamese volunteer troops overthrew the reactionary group Pol Pot – Ieng Sary, liberating the country from the genocide regime, establishing the People’s Republic of Cambodia and the Revolutionary People’s Council of Cambodia (January 8, 1979). That victory has entered history as a milestone of the pure and faithful international solidarity between the two peoples of Cambodia and Vietnam and opened a new page in the friendly neighbourly relationship between the two countries.
In 1975, right after the successful conclusion of the Vietnam War, the Cambodian people could not enjoy peace and yet again fell into a great tragedy. Pol Pot’s reactionary group put the Cambodian people before the terrible genocide, unprecedented in human history. In just 3 years, 8 months, and 20 days, they killed more than 3 million innocent Cambodians. They also trampled on the good val-ues of the Cambodia-Vietnam relationship when waging bloody war, infringing on sovereignty and territory of southwestern Vietnam.
Although Vietnam has yet to overcome the heavy consequences of the war and is still besieged and embargoed, before Pol Pot’s brutal acts of aggression and genocide, it responded to the urgent call of the Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation to save the country and the Cambodian peo-ple. The Vietnamese Communist Party with its military and the Vietnamese people have exercised their legitimate right to self-defense, crushing invasions, side by side with the Cambodian armed forces, and the Cambodian people overthrew the genocidal regime on January 7, 1979.
The Victory on January 7 1979 saved the Cambodian people from genocide, regained the right to life, the right to be human, and entered the era of independence, true freedom, revitalising the coun-try and the people, build a peaceful and beautiful life. This is also a common victory of the people of the two countries, demonstrating the strength of the spirit of international solidarity, fidelity, and fullness of love between the two peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia. With this victory, the relation-ship between the two countries Cambodia-Vietnam changed to a new-restored period, fostering the solidarity, traditional friendship, and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries on the principles of peace and respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, respect each other’s legitimate interests for the development and prosperity of each country.
After overthrowing the genocidal regime, Vietnam continued its lofty mission to restore and rebuild Cambodia, and bring the people’s lives back to normal. The process of fighting side by side with so many hardships and heroic sacrifices of many Vietnamese volunteer soldiers, the Cambodian revo-lutionary armed forces became increasingly strong and were able to protect the country. From that reality, according to the agreement between the two Parties and States, in 1989, Vietnam withdrew all its Volunteer Troops and fulfilled its glorious international obligations.
It can be said that the victory of the Cambodian people over the Pol Pot genocide regime has closed a dark and painful history of the Cambodian people, opening the era of independence, peace, freedom, and development for “the Country of Temples & Pagodas”. At the same time, January 7, 1979, has become a historic milestone of the pure, faithful, and special international solidarity be-tween the Vietnamese people and the Cambodia people.
It can be seen that the history of Cambodia-Vietnam friendship on January 7, 1979 is still forever stuck in the minds of the people of the two countries. In that sense, lessons learned from deep theo-retical and practical issues need to be promoted in the cause of national construction and defense in each country, contributing to strengthening national cooperation, promote regional and international integration of the two countries Cambodia-Vietnam in the new era.
Uch Leang: Department of Asian, African and Middle East Studies of International Relation Institute of Cambodia