History: Cambodia’s King Sihanouk and Zhou Enlai


February 11, 2017

Cambodia: King Sihanouk and Zhou Enlai

Note: All students of Cambodian History and Foreign Policy should read Charisma and Leadership–The Human Side of Great Leaders of the 20th Century by Prince Norodom Sihanouk with Dr. Bernard Krisher (Phnom Penh: The Cambodia Daily, 1990). Why? Leadership matters in today’s world, especially with the election on November 8, 2016 and the  inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017.

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His Majesty  King Norodom Sihanouk’s Impressions on Zhou Enlai appear on pp.45-66.  The Intellectual Cambodian Monarch Samdech Euv (Khmer: សម្តេចឪ)’s My War with The C.I.A (Baltimore:Penguin Book,1973) with Wilfred Burchett, and William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979) which deal with Cambodia-US Relations should are also on my recommended read list.–Din Merican
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Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai asked Deng Xiaoping and Ye Jianying to see Sihanouk and his family members off. Picture taken on September 9, 1975, Sihanouk (middle), his wife (left) and Deng Xiaoping traveled in a motorcade.

20 years friendship: Sihanouk and Zhou Enlai

http://english.cntv.cn/program/newsupdate/20121015/104851.shtml

Cambodia’s Samdech Euv (King-Father) Norodom Sihanouk’s friendship with China began with his first encounter with the then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, in 1955 at the Bandung Conference which was hosted by President Ahmed Sukarno of Indonesia. Their friendship lasted for more than two decades until Zhou Enlai’s death in 1976.

Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai met Norodom Sihanouk for the first time at the Bandung Conference on April  18, 1955.

In the morning, when most of the delegation was outside the venue waiting for the host, Indonesia’s first President  Ahmed Sukarno, Zhou Enlai met the 33-year-old Sihanouk, the then Cambodian Prime Minister.

Cheng Yuangong, Zhou Enlai’s FMR guard, said, “Premier Zhou was talking to other people when he found that Norodom Sihanouk was some seven meters away. Premier Zhou stepped up and began talking to him. Sihanouk was very touched by the Chinese Premier’s friendly move.”

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During the six-day conference, Zhou Enlai made a statement, applauding Cambodia’s fight for independence led by Norodom Sihanouk. He said China fully respected Cambodia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During the conference, Zhou Enlai also gave a banquet for the Cambodian delegation. In Norodom Sihanouk’s memoirs, he called it an unforgettable invitation. Zhou Enlai’s welcome made him feel part of a brotherhood.

Ten months after the Bandung Conference, Norodom Sihanouk visited China for the first time. One month later, Zhou Enlai was invited to Cambodia. It was very rare in world diplomatic history for two countries to welcome delegations without establishing diplomatic ties.

In 1958, China and Cambodia formally established ambassador-level diplomatic relations. In 1970, Norodom Sihanouk was forced into exile in China when Lon Nol clique staged a coup d’ etat . China continued to support him, and he lived in Beijing for the next five years.

Zhou Enlai would never miss Sihanouk or his wife’s birthday unless he was on a visit abroad. In 1975, Sihanouk decided to return to Cambodia when the Lon Nol government was overthrown.

At that time, suffering from cancer, Zhou Enlai weighed just 30 kilograms. But he still insisted on making detailed arrangements for Sihanouk. The two old friends said their final goodbyes on August the 26th, 1975. 6 months later, Zhou Enlai died in Beijing. But Sihanouk’s friendship with China never wavered.

READ This:

https://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/e-journal/articles/jeldres_1.pdf

China’s Quest for Regional Community


February 3, 2017

China’s Quest for Regional Community

by Zhang Yunling, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/02/03/chinas-neighbours-and-the-quest-for-regional-community/

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China’s Xi and Indonesia’s Jokowi

China’s meteoric rise has put the spotlight on the relationships it shares with its neighbours. Distinct national interests and the substantial social and political diversity in the region make the development of a regional community a complex and delicate task.

China shares land borders with 14 countries and has eight maritime neighbours. But to truly understand China’s relations with its neighbours, one must go beyond geography and consider how history, culture, geopolitics and geo-economics have shaped, and will continue to shape, these relationships.

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President Duterte of  the Philippines and China’s Xi Jinping

Serious consideration must also be given to competitive national interests in the evolution of these increasingly interdependent relationships. The rise of China presents new challenges and opportunities for the development of neighbourhood relations and regional strategies. The close involvement of extra-regional powers, such as the United States, Japan and India, serves to further complicate China’s relationships with its neighbours.

China and its neighbours have a shared interest in maintaining a peaceful and friendly relationship. If mishandled, all sides will suffer. This is the implication behind the Chinese leadership’s call for a ‘community of shared interests and common destiny’ with its neighbours through a number of new initiatives. This new, grand strategy is underpinned by China’s growing confidence in its ability to shape the regional environment. It reflects a new mode of strategic thinking on how to position China among its neighbours and how to understand the new importance of China’s neighbouring regions.

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President of China Xi Jinping and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen

China has developed initiatives to enhance regional ties, but the political, social and economic diversity among China’s neighbours is immense. Relations are further complicated by conflicts of interest between the neighbours themselves, as well as by intervention from extra-regional powers, which engage in overt and covert competition in the region.

As China’s influence rises, its neighbours’ distrust grows. Some of them worry that China’s harbours ambitions for regional hegemony. Maritime and territorial disputes, over the exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea and South China Sea in particular, have resulted in rising tension between China, Japan and some ASEAN members. There has been widespread concern that confrontations may lead to a military conflict. The announcement and implementation of the United States’ ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy, which stokes US–China competition in the region, has amplified these difficulties.

China’s rise has triggered complex reactions among its neighbours. In some cases, it has exacerbated existing disputes. When China was weaker, disputes were more likely to be shelved — China often lacked the capacity to address them, and neighbouring countries considered their relations with China to be a lower priority.

As a rising power, China will naturally expand its interests and exert its influence. This could lead to competition and conflict, particularly with the United States. As a result, a growing sense of anxiety has emerged among regional states that fear that a strong China would seek regional hegemony at their expense.

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with President Xi Jinping

Disputes among nations, including territorial disputes, should — for the sake of all involved — never be resolved by resort to war.

Traditional Chinese culture advocates peace and harmony, commends defusing contradictions, pursues reconciliation and believes in the tactical principle of subduing enemy troops without resorting to war. The time for China to display this ‘culture of harmony’ may be arriving.

The concept of harmony has shaped Chinese culture and politics for centuries. In September 2011, the Chinese State Council Information Office incorporated these values into China’s foreign policy by releasing a white paper entitled ‘China’s Peaceful Development’. This report outlines the core values that should define China’s strategic rise to global prominence, with an emphasis on the concept of a ‘harmonious’ culture.

The Chinese leadership has recently called for building a ‘community of shared interests and common destiny’ among China and its neighbours, based on the guiding principles of ‘amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness’. But realising this communal dream will depend on the will and wisdom of both China and its neighbours.

Both sides have made great efforts made to develop the China–ASEAN relationship. The China–ASEAN Free Trade Area and strategic partnership is just one example of an attempt by both parties to build a cooperative framework based on good will and real interests. But tensions in the South China Sea, especially in light of the Philippines’ unilateral action through the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, hamper progress. And the United States’ military presence pours oil on the fire.

Fortunately, China and ASEAN have reconfirmed their commitment to a peaceful solution based on negotiations, and the Philippines’ newly elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, supports this approach. Both China and ASEAN recognise that cooperation, rather than confrontation, will lead to the best outcome in handling the dispute. Such an agreement could be based on consultation and negotiation, focusing on easing regional tensions and finding the best way to allocate resources.

The process of regional cooperation helps to build up a sense of community spirit and shared interests. One of the most important changes for East Asia is that the foundation of regional cooperation is now based on a multilayered structure ranging from bilateral to regional-level mechanisms, such as the ASEAN+3 and +6 frameworks and the East Asia Summit.

China has so far played an active role in promoting this kind of regional cooperation, showing that what a rising China wants is to build and reinforce the regional community — not a China-dominated ‘Middle Kingdom order’.

Zhang Yunling is Professor of International Economics and Director of International Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

This article appeared in the most recent edition of the East Asia Forum Quarterly, ‘Managing China’.

Wisdom for the Taking


January 26, 2017

Wisdom for the Taking

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To all my Cambodian students at The University of Cambodia, I say once again. Never quit and never give up in the face of adversity. I know you have the talents and the personal will to stand up for your beautiful country.–Professor Din Merican@The Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations, The University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.

Foreign Policy: ASEAN and The Trumpian New World Disorder


January 22, 2017

Foreign Policy: ASEAN and The Trumpian New World Disorder

by Dr. Munir Majid@www.thestar.com.my

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THE buzzword among think tanks on global strategy in the West is “World Disorder”. This follows, particularly, Donald Trump’s victory last November in the United States Presidential election – he will be inaugurated on January 20 – but also the British Brexit vote in June and anxiety over the possible triumph of populist right-wing parties, in France especially, this year.There is a common opposition in these developments to the global and local liberal order, to free trade and movement of peoples, and to the political value system that has characterised the West and, tangentially, the rest of the world.

However the reality for emerging and developing countries is likely to be different, and the stack of concerns over disturbance to the world order is not the same.

For the longest time those not in the West had been buzzing, if we remember, about a new world, particularly economic, order. There has been some little progress, notably establishment of the G-20 in 1999 whose leaders’ summit did not convene until 2008 following the Western financial crisis, but by and large the institutions of the international order set up at the end of the Second World War remained intact.

Developing countries nevertheless benefited immensely from the open system of trade of that international order – China, particularly, since its opening up in 1978 – as they were able to take advantage of their low cost of production to penetrate Western markets.

ASEAN countries have also been beneficiaries of this open trading system. Now ASEAN is on the path of greater economic integration to attract investment and to encourage trade, not just among member states, but also from and with the world. A number of them have moved or are moving up the economic ladder, aiming for greater productivity and higher value-added products and services – all predicated on the existing open global trading and economic system.

Now this system may be changed, or may not be as open. It would however be a mistake for ASEAN – and rising Asia more generally – to succumb to the doom and gloom that seem to have settled on the West. Now is the time for Asia and ASEAN to show their mettle.

Efforts at ASEAN economic integration should be redoubled to extract growth from regional economic activity. Intra-regional trade should be enhanced beyond the present 25% of total trade.

In its first year, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) did not show any spectacular rise in intra-regional economic activity, or any great push to address barriers to trade and investment.

Thailand, for instance, reported only a 1.8% increase in exports to ASEAN in baht terms for 11 months up to November in 2016. Yet the increase to CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) was 2.8%, with an expected 3% increase in 2017.

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This shows that where there is greater intensity of economic activity and integration – CLMV+T (Thailand) – there will be potential gains. Many barriers have come down and connectivity is improving. The CLMV+T sub-region is becoming the powerhouse of ASEAN growth, with the inclusion also of China’s Yunnan and Guangxi provinces. CLMV economic growth is actually 6-8% while the ASEAN average is closer to four.

The removal of non-tariff measures and barriers (NTBs) will help generate greater trade, investment and economic activity across ASEAN. Alas, there was no significant NTB action in 2016, despite agreement by ASEAN economic ministers that focused working groups start addressing the problem in four prioritised sectors.

The officials and private sector must step up the pace this year as ASEAN is increasingly challenged by the global post trade liberalisation environment promised by the Trump administration.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is rightly seen as a further extension of the AEC and, with the impending demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as its successor leading right up to the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

The question is who will lead the charge as America shies away from free trade? The obvious – and ironic – answer is: China. Indeed, Xi Jinping was up to the challenge, going by his statements at the APEC summit in Peru last November.

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However, China itself has many adjustments to make such as opening its markets further and liberalising foreign investment in protected sectors. So there is plenty of negotiation to come. But it cannot take as long as the ten years it took to arrive at the TPP agreement.

The point is, alternative regional growth areas have to be founded. Asia’s rise, especially economic, that has been so much talked about, used to come easy in terms of the ready framework of free trade. Now it gets harder. Asia, including ASEAN countries of course, have to take the lead to fashion for themselves the rules and details of the order upon which they will plot their further progress.

There are some among the 11 TPP Remainers who argue for its resuscitation, even if it is without the US. It is, however, going to be a complex exercise. Dropping the entry into force provisions is easy enough, but would it make economic sense without the US? Would China be invited to join? Would the provisions in the TPP form the basis of the FTAAP or should they be introduced in the RCEP which was supposed to have been concluded at the end of last year but is now going full speed ahead for completion this year? Certainly, increased complexity would push it back.

It might be better, therefore, to work on what is there in RCEP and add to it later. Who knows, America may, after Trump, want to join the regional grouping.

So Asian and ASEAN countries must now take the lead in free trade arrangements, regionally to begin with, but with others as well. This is the main challenge they face from the “world disorder” being widely discussed in the West.

Asia – and ASEAN – are less troubled by the two other components of global liberal order threatened by right-wing populism in the West. First, between individual rights and state control, they are far closer to the latter. Thus the threatened values such as equal justice and tolerance are of less concern to them as they found their legitimacy on economic satisfaction – at least for now.

Second, apart from Japan and Korea, they range from agnostic to hostile on security arrangements and alliances. As the wheels come off Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia-Pacific, they will just wait to see what takes its place. The loose screws were to be tightened by the TPP.

With the TPP as good as gone, what has been lost is meaningful US strategic commitment to the region. But it would be wrong to assume America has gone isolationist.

With the rise of China, belief in the region in manifest American destiny – if ever it existed to any degree – has receded. Some ASEAN countries may have wanted greater US commitment in the region as a balancer – but at no time as Roman Consul.

Think tanks in the West, with their affinity to American leadership and commitment, are greatly concerned with the uncertainty that will be caused by Trump’s transactional approach to security. In Asia, even Japan and Korea have come to learn that their security can be exposed to transactional risk. There is no certainty about their security. It is constantly being tested. They see variable results, in the Middle East, with Russia in the Ukraine and Crimea. With this realism they see less movement towards “world disorder”.

Of course, Trump will be more nakedly transactional. In Asia and ASEAN the gravest danger, as they see it, is to their trade. They see that Trump feels the cost of the series of transactions has been too high for America.

But it should not be concluded Trump will abandon American leadership. In fact he is making it more muscular, in his way, whether short-sighted or not. For ASEAN – and Asia generally – the main concern is its ramifications in trade and economy. Less so grand and emphatic recoiling from the threat of “world disorder.”

Tan Sri Munir Majid, Chairman of Bank Muamalat and Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE Ideas (Centre for International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy), is also chairman of CIMB ASEAN Research Institute.

4-Star General of RCAF Dr. Nem Sowath–Alumnus of the University of Cambodia


January 11, 2017

4-Star General Dr. Nem Sowath–Soldier, Author, Intellectual and Alumnus of the University of Cambodia

The University of Cambodia is naturally proud to present a brief video on  His Excellency General Dr. Nem Sowath of The  Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF). He is a role model for young Cambodians of the present generation.

Dr. Nem is a historian, soldier diplomat, political scientist, and a distinguished alumnus who has written two books on His Excellency  Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, General Tea Banh. The General also attended post doctoral programmes at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and The National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. –Din Merican

Cambodia: Sustaining high economic growth


January 1, 2017

Cambodia: Sustaining  high economic growth 

by  Heng Pheakdey, Enrich Institute

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/01/01/keeping-cambodia-competitive-beyond-2016/

Here Comes Cambodia: Asia’s New Tiger Economy

After decades of conflict and poverty that captured the world’s attention, Cambodia has enjoyed five years of high economic growth that is moving it toward becoming one of the new tiger economies of Asia, according to forecasts in the Asian Development Bank’s Asian Development Outlook 2016.

For the last two decades Cambodia has been one of the fastest growing countries in Asia with an average annual GDP growth rate of 8.1 per cent.

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Cambodia has been highly successful in embracing the ‘factory Asia’ model of growth, supplying its low-cost labour to export-oriented industries. Economic progress in recent years has allowed Cambodia to invest in physical and social infrastructure, attract foreign direct investment, create jobs and lift millions of its people out of poverty. The Asian Development Bank called Cambodia Asia’s new ‘tiger economy’.

Cambodia’s economic performance in 2016 remained robust, with growth continuing at 7 per cent. Strong garment sector exports and foreign investment in construction drove this economic performance. Exports in the garment and footwear industries rose by 9.4 per cent in the first half of the year, almost double the pace in the same period of 2015 thanks to improved production processes and high demand from the European market. As of September 2016, the value of approved commercial projects in the construction sector more than doubled to US$7.2 billion. Imports of construction equipment and materials also increased to support the construction boom.

But solid growth in the industrial sector has been offset by a slowdown in agriculture and tourism. Unfavourable weather conditions and falling commodity prices have resulted in agriculture’s sluggish performance, which grew at a rate of only 0.2 per cent in 2014–2016. Tourism also underperformed in early 2016 due to a decline in tourist arrivals from Vietnam, Laos and South Korea. 1.3 million tourists visited Cambodia in the first quarter of the year, a mere 2.6 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2015.

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The World Bank reclassified Cambodia in July 2016 as a lower middle-income country after its gross national income per capita reached US$1070 in 2015, surpassing the minimum threshold of a lower middle-income nation of US$1026. While this sign of progress should be welcomed, it comes with its own set of challenges. Analysts fear that this new classification will reduce Cambodia’s benefits from international foreign aid and preferential trade agreements that the country enjoyed while still a ‘least developed country’.

To prepare for the anticipated reduction in international assistance and trade privileges, Cambodia needs to strengthen its competitiveness, diversify its economy and upgrade its industries.

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Although garment exports have held up well so far, the sector remains narrowly based and concentrated on a few markets, making it vulnerable to external shocks. To preserve Cambodia’s attractiveness relative to its regional competitors such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, it must diversify into higher value products and services and strengthen labour productivity to reflect the rise of the minimum wage.

The modernisation of agriculture would also help to sustain productivity in the long run. Employing more than half of Cambodia’s labour force, agriculture has contributed significantly to poverty reduction. But high reliance on rain-dependent rice production, slow adoption of quality seeds and inadequate agricultural extension services and irrigation facilities remain key constraints in the sector. Diversifying to less water intensive crops, developing the agribusiness and agro-processing industry, promoting a modernised value chain and cost effective logistics are crucial to put agriculture back on a higher growth path.

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Efforts have been made so far to support economic diversification. The Cambodia Industrial Development Policy was launched in March 2015 to transform and modernise Cambodia’s industrial structure from a labour-intensive industry to a skill-driven industry by 2025. This implies increasing the GDP share of the industrial sector, diversifying goods exports including non-textiles and processed agricultural products and modernising the registration of enterprises. The policy also supports stronger regulations and enforcement and helps create a more favourable business environment.

Domestic investors also have an important role to play in the diversification process. Experts believe that the success of Cambodia’s economy will be driven by local entrepreneurs and the private sector, not by international donor assistance. Providing support to domestic investors in trade facilitation, logistics, infrastructure and human capital is just as important.

Cambodia faces many challenges to stay competitive. To realise its vision of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2030 requires strong commitments to address infrastructure bottlenecks, build a high-quality human capital base, strengthen natural resource management, enhance governance and improve financial services and the business environment.

Heng Pheakdey is the founder and chairman of Enrich Institute.