Archives consist of articles that originally appeared in Collier's Year Book (for events of 1997 and earlier) or as monthly updates in Encarta Yearbook (for events of 1998 and later). Because they were published shortly after events occurred, they reflect the information available at that time. Cross references refer to Archive articles of the same year.
Politics and Government.
There were few internal political developments in Cambodia this year. The head of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, remained the undisputed leader of the country, enjoying wide popular support and an efficient political base in the Sangkum Party (People's Socialist Community). Elections for a new National Assembly were held on September 11, and the Sangkum (which presented 415 candidates) won all 82 seats. In October, Premier Norodom Kantol's cabinet resigned, and a new government was formed, with the former defense minister, Lieutenant General Lon Nol, as premier. However, some opposition was apparent inside the Sangkum. In November, Prince Sihanouk agreed to let this opposition form a shadow cabinet within the party. Small groups still oppose Sihanouk's policies: the negligible Communist Pracheachon Party and, on the right, the Khmer Serei (Free Cambodians), whose leader is former Premier Son Ngoc Thanh. This party is backed by South Vietnam and Thailand and is said to be the instigating force behind some of the border skirmishes.
The foreign policy of Cambodia was still dominated by efforts to avoid involvement in the Vietnamese war and to obtain international recognition of the neutrality and the territorial integrity of the kingdom.
Anxiety in Cambodia developed late in December 1965, when Washington made it known that American commanders in South Vietnam had been empowered to pursue Communist soldiers into Cambodia in certain cases. On December 28 the Cambodian National Assembly gave the government the authority to respond to "an act of war by an act of war," and in a letter to UN Secretary-General U Thant the Cambodian government warned that it would retaliate if there were further violations of Khmer (Cambodian) territory or air space by U.S. or South Vietnamese forces. The government also said it would seek the help of countries prepared to assist it. In another letter to U Thant, Cambodia suggested an investigation by the International Control Commission (ICC); the ICC was set up to ensure Cambodia's neutrality under the 1954 Geneva accords. The investigation was supposed to deal with reports of alleged arms shipments from Cambodia to the Communist forces in South Vietnam and with Cambodia's charges that American and South Vietnamese forces had made attacks on Cambodian villages along the border. On January 8 the United States expressed interest in this proposal.
New uneasiness resulted, however, from American reports saying that Cambodia was violating its proclaimed neutrality by giving shelter, food, and other aid to the South Vietnamese antigovernment National Liberation Front (NLF) forces retreating to its territory and was permitting North Vietnamese troops to use a Cambodian trail to South Vietnam. Other reports said that the port of Sihanoukville was used to land USSR and Chinese supplies for the NLF. On the other hand, in April, Phnom Penh publicized a "series of Thai aggressions" on Cambodian positions on the western border, near the Preah Vihear temple.
Cambodia then decided to increase its combat forces by 20 percent, bringing the total to 33,500 men. However, feeling that China would probably not support it fully even against American attack, Cambodia looked for Western and Afro-Asian support. On March 14, Deputy Premier Son Sann arrived in Moscow for a four-day visit, and on March 23, Prince Sihanouk said that the USSR had offered new and "very great" military aid. International, particularly Asian, opinion came out strongly against the prospect of an extension of the Vietnam conflict to Cambodia. On May 29, Prince Sihanouk called once more for expansion of the ICC.
Cambodia also sought a betterment of its relations with the United States. In early January an invitation asking that three members of the U.S. Congress visit Cambodia aroused interest in Washington. Prince Sihanouk's policy was now better understood there. At President Johnson's direction a review of U.S. policy on Cambodia was being conducted to discover whether steps could be taken to ease the tension between the two countries. An expansion of the Vietnamese war into Cambodia was ruled out, and some form of agreed supervision of the frontier was sought. Washington then responded favorably to the Cambodian proposal for expanding the ICC's role and offered to pay for it. On August 5, Secretary of State Dean Rusk praised Prince Sihanouk for having "done a very constructive and positive job in the development of his own country" and for keeping it out of the fighting that had ravaged its neighbors. Despite Chinese disapproval of any enlargement of the ICC's role and of any concession to the United States, Prince Sihanouk, answering a letter from American Ambassador-at-Large W. Averell Harriman, invited Harriman to pay a visit to Cambodia for an exchange of views. He made it clear, however, that this visit would not lead to re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, which had been broken on May 5, 1965.
Although relations with Peking have recently cooled, Prince Sihanouk is determined to remain on good terms with Communist nations, particularly China. However, he looks mainly to France and also to other Western countries to maintain the equilibrium so important to independence. The problem of the recognition of present borders was dominant at this stage of Cambodian foreign policy. Realizing that the organization of an international conference would encounter extreme difficulties at present, Prince Sihanouk strove to obtain from the different governments concerned the assurances he needed. Because of the Saigon government's negative reactions to Sihanouk's proposals that the frontier be firmly fixed, Cambodia held talks with the NLF on this subject. At the end of August, Harriman's trip was postponed indefinitely after the strafing of a border village by U.S. aircraft. On September 4, Prince Sihanouk said he would be willing to receive Harriman and to normalize relations with the United States when Washington was ready to recognize present Cambodian frontiers. The prince suggested that the United States and other countries of the world make declarations similar to those that have been made by France.
Commitments from France were climaxed with General de Gaulle's visit from August 31 to September 2. The leaders issued a joint communiqué outlining the common stand of the two countries on the problem of Indochina as a whole and their desire to see the 1954 and 1962 Geneva accords strictly observed by all countries. Sihanouk still insisted that a neutral belt should be forged from South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. France pledged to continue her economic and financial aid to Cambodia.
Tension with Thailand was eased. In March, Cambodia approached Thailand on resuming diplomatic relations provided Thailand agreed to uphold present boundaries. And in August, at the suggestion of the Thai government, Cambodia agreed to have a representative of U Thant assist in reducing incidents along the border.
Relations with North Vietnam have developed. In April, Cambodia agreed to let Hanoi install a diplomatic mission in Phnom Penh.
The economic situation remained basically sound in 1966, with new improvements in agriculture and industry. The rice crop was poor, but rubber production continued at a high level. Cambodia got new material aid and technical assistance from the USSR, China, France, Japan, and other countries.
Area and Population.
Area, 69,800 sq. mi. Pop. (est. 1965), 6,230,000. Principal cities: Phnom Penh (cap.), 550,000; Battambang, 40,000; Kompong Cham, 30,000.
Limited constitutional monarchy with a parliament consisting of the Council of the Kingdom and the National Assembly. Head of state: Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The country is divided into 17 provinces.
Monetary unit, riel; 35 riels = U.S.$1.00. Budget (1964): revenue, 4.48 billion riels; expenditure, 6.24 billion riels.
Imports, $102 million; exports, $105 million. Leading imports: textiles, base metals and manufactures, machinery. Leading exports: rice, rubber, maize.
Agriculture and Industry.
Chief products: rice (1964), 2,600,000 tons; maize (1964), 220,000 tons; rubber (1965), 48,800 tons. Industrial production is limited.
Enrollment: primary, 625,028; secondary, 66,710; technical, 2,542; higher, 2,308.
Army, 33,500; Air Force, 1,300; Navy, 1,200.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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