That question is a bit complicated. Cambodia is a democratic country, and its strongest allies are the United States and Japan. Recently China, where the ailing King lives most of the time now, has stepped up its efforts to be a power player in Cambodia. The preferred form of currency on the ground there is the US Dollar. The Prime Minister's sons were/are schooled in the U.S. . The country has a constitutional Monarchy, and the King and his sons are close with North Korea and China, as well as France. Cambodia shares a lot with France, but faces difficulty with the issues of their relationship to North Korea in particular- but appears to be the only country that has kept strong diplomatic ties with N.Korea, probably because the King has a palace there. Cambodia is very close with Thailand and Vietnam, though there have been disagreements about borders with both of those countries. When the King negotiated the independence of Cambodia from the French in the 1950's, the King ceded a large portion of the country to Viet Nam (most of what we call South Vietnam today was Cambodia before the independecne declaration), and millions of cambodians woke up to find that they were now Vietnamese. The Vietnamese government generally consider the Cambodians to be of much lower status, much the same way that whites considered blacks in America during the period of slavery. Cambodians are deemed today by the Vietnamese as unintelligent, lazy, and shiftless. Likewise, the general public sentiment is one of hatred towards the Vietnamese by the Cambodian people. Hun Sen ended the Pol Pot regime by leading his troops into Viet Nam in 1979 to solicit their help in over-throwing that genocidal regime. He returned with the vietnamese Army, who took over the country, and placed in him in a high ranking position within the government. Viet Nam occupied Cambodia for 10 years, during which time the Pol Pot militias (remember the killing fields) were forced out into the jungles and rural countryside where they controlled an entire region of the country as warlords. In 1998(?), after the death of Pol Pot, Hun Sen negotiated an agreement in which the remaining mitiamen disarmed and were subsumed into the Cambodian army and government. Seen as a corrupt policy (Hun Sen was a low level officer in Pol Pots Army during the Cambodian genocide), his diplomatic acumen played the primary role in thrusting the country into almost a decade of peace and economic expansion and growth. While the Cambodian "on the ground" is known to hate Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the two countries have had a strong and positive diplomatic relationship.
The country itself is very socially conservative, in western terms, but also because they are a Buddhist and not a Christian culture, they don't struggle with much of the Culture War mess we do in the states and much of the west.
Also, they work very hard to keep strong and positive relationships with all of their neighbors, including their communist neighbors, and seem to be on pretty good terms with them, though things happen from time to time. For example, a few years ago, a Thai official (thailand is a Democracy) said that Angkor Wat belonged to them, and this enraged Cambodians. The prime minister quipped back that Angkor was well above even a blade of Thai grass being on its grounds. What ensued was a riot in which the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was burned down (people were already mad because the government gave the land for the new embassy to Thailand through eminent domain, and paid a paltry sum to relocate the disenfranchised.) The Thai ambassador had to be dropped down the back wall and whisked off to a narrow safety. The relationship between the two countries was cold for several weeks, but warmed up considerably well after Cambodia paid for the repairs and rebuilding of the embassy, and Hun Sen visited the Thai Prime Minister, returning to expand the Thai leader's operation of the cell phone carrier he owns (the largest in the region). Since then, that Thai leader has been forced out of office for corruption charges realted to his multi-billion dollar phone company, but the relationship between Cambodia and Thailand has stayed strong.
Cambodia politics are always interesting, and have suffered intrusions from the west graciously, but it is difficult to understand the politics in that part of the world unless you also understand how vasly different their culture and world paradigm is.
Also you should know that Hun Sen has led the country as prime minister for about 10 years now, and is noted as the first leader in 40 years to estabilsh a sustainable and lasting peace. Instances of civil unrest have become quite mild and unusual as the people embrace democracy and foster a personal relationship with America. Many have accused him of widespread corruption- though no proof has been proffered. There is a lot of graft and corruption in the country, though, more probably related to the low income of government officials (police are lucky to make 50$ in a month). I say all of this to highlight the reality that Cambodia works hard to keep strong and positive relationships with all countries, whether they are in line with them politically or not, simply for the fact that Cambodia depends wholly on monies from the international community to pay for the functioning of their government.
Does this help?
I'm trained extensively in Cambodian History and Culture
· 1 decade ago