Torn first by the civil war and the authoritarian Pol Pot regime in the 1970s, then by the invasion by the Vietnamese, Cambodia was in the recent past the most turbulent state in the entire area of Southeast Asia. Since 1991, the year of the signing of the Paris Agreement that put an end to the conflict between Phnom-Penh and Hanoi, Cambodia has slowly embarked on the path of stabilization, even if the completion of the process still seems distant on the horizon. The country’s main ally in the area remains China, the only country that continued to provide aid to Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. Beijing ensures substantial investments in infrastructure projects and protection in the national security sector in Phnom-Penh. In turn,sean the Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Although it does not appear as Phnom Penh’s first trading partner, China is the country’s leading source of foreign investment, positioning itself on levels not even remotely comparable to, for example, those of the United States: in the last two years more than 6 billion dollars have been injected by the Dragon, against the approximately 100 million from overseas. The relationship with Washington is made difficult by the constraints imposed by the United States, which place respect for human rights among the conditions for granting aid. Cambodia has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (A sean), a regional integration body, within which the country has often taken pro-Chinese positions.
At the regional level, according to itypeusa, Cambodia’s relations with neighboring countries are marked by ongoing border disputes. Relations with Thailand are troubled by a territorial issue dating back to 1962, when a ruling by the International Court of Justice entrusted Phnom-Penh with sovereignty over the disputed area of the Preah Vihear temple. The latent tension between the two countries reached its peak with the border clashes that in 2011 resulted in the death of several soldiers. In 2013, a new ruling by the International Court of Justice unanimously confirmed the 1962 interpretation, upholding Cambodian claims relating to the temple area and its vicinity. A diplomatic victory only in half for Cambodia, which also claimed its sovereignty over a neighboring area, and at the same time a ruling that will have to be followed by bilateral negotiations for implementation. Equally tense relations with Vietnam, exacerbated in recent years by the question of Motagnard refugees (Cristiani Degar) who, fleeing Vietnam, pour into the Cambodian border areas.
Regarding relations with the European Union, Cambodia is part of the ‘Everything but Arms’ initiative, which provides for the elimination of duties for imports from less developed countries for all products except weapons. However, the effects of such a scheme are not without risk and controversy particularly when combined with land grabbing and human rights violations.
On the domestic front, in Cambodia the monarchy represents the symbol of national unity, while executive power is entrusted to a government appointed on the basis of parliamentary balance. The current Prime Minister Hun Sen, in government since 1985, is an exponent of the Cambodian People’s Party (Kanakpak Pracheachon Kâmpuchéa, Kpk), which in the controversial and contested elections of 28 July 2013 managed to confirm itself despite losing twenty-two seats in favor of 2008. of the newly formed Cambodia National Rescue Party (Cnrp). The outcome of the electoral round was announced, but the non-affirmation of the CNRP led by Sam Rainsy caused an unprecedented wave of popular discontent, which resulted in massive street demonstrations. The leaders of the CNRP they denounced Hun Sen’s party for fraud and a political and institutional stalemate was created which lasted for a year and was characterized by high political and social instability. In July 2014, the two parties reached an agreement that introduced a process of reforms, the most important of which was the creation of an Electoral Commission composed of nine members (four belonging to the Kpk, four to the CNRP and an independent one agreed by the two parties). The agreement ended the CNRP’s boycott of parliamentary sessions, but the political situation remains uncertain.