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.
In the field of foreign affairs as well as of domestic politics, Cambodia's political life was dominated by efforts to maintain the neutrality of the kingdom, increasingly threatened by foreign infringements resulting from the war in Vietnam.
Effects of Vietnam War.
Anxiety about American intentions remained throughout the year. Although an expansion of the war into Cambodian territory was apparently ruled out by Washington in July 1966, reports that the Pentagon had asked President Lyndon B. Johnson's permission to "bring the war into Cambodia" were given publicity by the Cambodian chief of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The Cambodian government pointed out that the U.S. military command in South Vietnam was repeatedly charging Cambodia with giving aid to South Vietnamese insurgents—the National Liberation Front (NLF)—and with letting supplies reach them either by the so-called trail in the northeastern provinces of Cambodia or by way of the port of Sihanoukville. Cambodia offered to provide independent observers and the International Control Commission (ICC), set up by the 1954 Geneva agreements, with means of verifying that the allegations about Cambodian logistic aid to the NLF were untrue.
Uneasiness grew with the assertion that the United States and its allies were preparing a coup in Cambodia in order to cause the downfall of Prince Sihanouk and were responsible for repeated incidents on the border, such as the bombing of villages, infiltration by South Vietnamese and Thai agents, and acts of sabotage. Strong diplomatic protests heightened tension between Phnom Penh, on the one hand, and Saigon and Bangkok, on the other. In September, Cambodian newspapers began to ask what the U.S.S.R. and People's Republic of China would do if Cambodian territory were attacked. Cambodia made preparations for guerrilla warfare but apparently preferred to throw light on alleged threats in order to arouse international opinion on its behalf.
Foreign Recognition of Frontiers.
Cambodia had determined in 1966 to obtain firm international recognition of its present boundaries, and persistent efforts were made in this direction after France gave Cambodia its assurances in September 1966. In June 1967, at the close of a visit to Moscow by Cambodian Foreign Minister Norodom Phurissara, the Soviet Union pledged to respect the territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present frontiers. Assurances from other Communist countries followed.
Critically important for Cambodia was the attitude of the Vietnamese insurgents. The presidium of the NLF pledged in May to respect Cambodia's present borders, and in June the Hanoi government approved this declaration and extended the same recognition. Cambodia, in return, recognized the NLF as the "sole genuine representative of the South Vietnamese people" and granted NLF representatives diplomatic status. Cambodia also granted de jure recognition to North Vietnam and established diplomatic relations with it at the embassy level. In July, People's Republic of China also pledged to respect Cambodia's present frontiers. Other pledges followed.
Thai Minister of the Interior Prapas Cherusathien told the press in June that Thailand would never recognize Cambodia's present territorial limits. Cambodia replied that it could resume diplomatic relations with Thailand only when Bangkok accepted the June 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice giving Cambodia the zone of Preah Vihear.
Relations With China.
Cambodia was unable to escape fallout from the Chinese "cultural revolution." Maoist activities among the Chinese community in Cambodia intensified, as did dissemination of Chinese Communist propaganda through the Sino-Khmer Friendship Association (AAKC). This organization was disbanded in September. A clumsy cable of support sent from the Peking AAKC to the Cambodian AAKC and published in Phnom Penh was followed by the resignation of the left-wing minister for economic affairs, Chau Seng, and by a ban on all private newspapers and strong measures against what the government called the "ideological invasion." Assurances given by Chinese Premier Chou En-lai regarding Chinese noninterference in Cambodian internal affairs were judged not entirely satisfactory. Prince Sihanouk made it clear that he wished to remain a sincere friend of China provided that Peking absolutely respected Cambodian independence and neutrality.
Relations With United States.
Relations with the United States remained at a very low ebb. Prince Sihanouk stated that there could be no question of normalization of relations between the two countries as long as Washington withheld recognition of Cambodia's present frontiers and supported Thai and South Vietnamese "aggressive policies." However, talks in Tokyo between the U.S. and Cambodian ambassadors were held in June at the United States' request. Washington wished to discuss the possibility of "contacts" as well as Cambodian conditions for a normalization of relations. A U.S. proposal to reinforce the ICC was turned down, Cambodia holding that such a decision belonged to the cochairmen of the Geneva conference.
Relations With Other Southeast Asian Nations.
Indonesia tried to persuade Cambodia to enter the new Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but Cambodia made known that it would refuse to join any such organization, at least until the end of the war in Vietnam. Anxious to reduce commitments that could infringe on its independence, Cambodia in September also withdrew from the Asian Development Bank and decided against seeking international financing of the Prek Thnot Dam, a part of the larger Mekong Basin project.
Some internal tensions were apparent within the kingdom. At the beginning of the year the left criticized the "rightist, or capitalist, tendencies" of Lieutenant General Lon Nol's cabinet and accused some of its members of seeking a rapprochement with the United States. This campaign was made easier by Prince Sihanouk's long stay in France in January and February. A few days before the Prince's return, in March, Lieutenant General Lon Nol was badly hurt in an automobile accident and could not continue his duties. The opposition asked for new elections and a new government. A special congress of the People's Socialist Community, the ruling political party, decided, however, to keep the present government and National Assembly. A "Khmer-Vietminh" group then launched armed action in April against guard posts in the northwestern province of Battambang. This limited insurrection, attributed by Prince Sihanouk to the Cambodian Communist Party, was combated by the army and by June had been quelled.
Lieutenant General Lon Nol resigned in April, and Prince Sihanouk took over the leadership of an emergency cabinet. This government made efforts to show that it was maintaining strict neutrality in foreign policy—a policy based on friendship with France, the U.S.S.R., and People's Republic of China and on the principles formulated at the Bandung conference in 1955. In domestic politics it adopted a central position, endeavoring to stimulate economic and social development on a basis of "Buddhist Socialism" and nationalism.
In May it was announced that the objectives of Cambodia's second five-year plan would be scaled down and that priority would be given to elimination of a budgetary deficit and to an increase in agricultural production, stressing rice and industrial crops such as cotton, jute, and sugarcane. The 1966-1967 rice crop was damaged by floods. Modernization and industrialization were proceeding in order to reduce the country's dependence on imports. An oil refinery was under construction at Sihanoukville, and a new rail line was being built between this port and the capital.
Area and Population.
Area, 66,606 sq. mi. Pop. (est. 1966), 6,250,000. Phnom Penh (cap.), 550,000.
Limited constitutional monarchy with Parliament consisting of a Council of the Kingdom and a National Assembly. Chief of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
Monetary unit, riel; 1 riel = U.S.$0.03. Budget (1967): balanced at 6.7 billion riels.
Imports, $102.8 million; exports, $105.6 million. Principal imports (1966): textiles, machinery, vehicles. Principal exports (1966): rice, rubber, maize.
Agriculture and Industry.
Chief products: rice (1966-1967), 2,260,000 tons; maize (1966-1967), 137,000 tons; rubber (1966), 48,900 tons; cotton; tobacco; peanuts; pepper; timber. Limited industrial production (about 3,000 industrial establishments).
Enrollment: primary, 799,539; secondary, 78,941; technical, 5,763; higher, 7,362.
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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