A Change of Guard

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Analyst warns gov’t over stance on South China Sea

A woman walks past a poster of the South China Sea, with the slogan at the bottom reading: China's territory, never to yield an inch of our ground. AFP
A woman walks past a poster of the South China Sea, with the slogan at the bottom reading: China's territory, never to yield an inch of our ground. AFP

PPP 21 Jul, 2016 Andrew Nachemson

Cambodia's decision to split with ASEAN over a maritime dispute in the South China Sea “put a spotlight on ASEAN and make[s] every move that Cambodia makes significant”, according to a high-ranking official at the US Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Michael J Green, a former assistant to president George W Bush on Asian security affairs, held a public lecture yesterday to discuss the future of US-China relations and their impact on Cambodia. The lecture was a joint effort between the US Embassy and the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace.

Earlier this month, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar refused to issue a joint statement with ASEAN, claiming the issue was between China and the Philippines only. Cambodia also joined China in preemptively dismissing The Hague’s pro-Philippines verdict.

Green said Cambodia’s decision not to stand with ASEAN would undermine the regional organisation. “ASEAN is not dead or finished,” Green said, “but just how much can we expect from them?” Green also expressed concern that if ASEAN is perceived as ineffective, the US would revert back to focusing only on “bilateral relations with the major players”.

Green expressed fears officials at home would be unimpressed with Cambodia’s loyalty to China and may want to focus resources on a more pliable ally.

However, he vowed to vouch for Cambodia back in the US.

“I’m going to make the argument that the US should expand cooperation with Cambodia,” he said.
A strong Cambodia was an independent Cambodia, he said. “The more resilient Cambodia becomes, the better they can resist the influence of more powerful countries.”

Phoak Kung, co-founder and president of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Post over the phone he thought Cambodia’s decision was “unlikely to affect its relations with the US”.
Kung said it was still in the US and Cambodia’s “best interest to strengthen their ties, politically and economically”, adding that “strong relations don’t require both countries to take the same decision on every issue”.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said he was unconcerned about the possibility that Cambodia undermined ASEAN or weakened its relationship with the US.

“We belong to ASEAN, but every issue is different,” he said. “We do not work for US interests or Chinese interests, we work for Cambodian interests”.


Anonymous said...

when the elephants fight , the ants die.....
and china will not back down on this one... they have nuke just like the US [ but the US is controlled by antiquated computer system which still use floppy disk ] , and russia is with china because NATO is trying to provoke russia as well ... iran might even join china and russia ...since they are on friendly term and adversary of US.

a side note : an article just came out today about US navy most expensive supercarrier warship ever built costing taxpayers 12.9 billions dollars and the best part is that it DOES NOT work...[ the USS Gerald R Ford ] the dept of defense admitted.

Anonymous said...

In that case, the US should play its role to help get rid of hun sen for a better democracy in Cambodia and better cooperation from a new regime which espouses democracy than hun sen dictator.