Cambodia and China: a tightening relationship
Since Prime Minister Hun Sen cemented his position at the apex of Cambodian politics in 1997 following the ousting of his political rivals in a violent coup, the PRC has gained a close partner in Southeast Asia. Spurned by the international community post-putsch, Beijing’s diplomatic, financial and military support helped Hun Sen consolidate political power. In return, the grateful Cambodian leader has backed China on a host of domestic and international issues, and encouraged Chinese businessmen to set up shop in the impoverished Kingdom. By the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, China had not only emerged as Cambodia’s primary external partner, but also the dominant player in the country’s developing economy.