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.
Cambodia's foreign policy this year was designed to ensure the integrity and the independence of the kingdom, but with a rather different perspective than that of 1968. As a consequence of the new American military strategy in South Vietnam, the fear of being involved in the Vietnam war seemed to have subsided. Nevertheless, the government's main concern was the persistence and even the worsening of old threats. Thailand still supported the Free Khmer movement and used it to maintain subversion and insurgency in the provinces of Battambang and Koh Kong. However, many Free Khmer members have defected to the government.
Prince Norodom Sihanouk was increasingly disturbed by the infiltration and permanent settling in the kingdom's eastern provinces (Ratanakiri, Mondolkiri, and Svay Rieng) not only of Vietnamese refugees but also of military and political elements. Among the Khmer hill tribes, these political elements work to encourage an aspiration to an autonomous state which would regroup tribes from both Vietnam and Cambodia. Some of these tribes, equipped with modern weapons, have already clashed with the Royal Army. Prince Sihanouk denounced such action as an attempt to force him to throw in his lot with the United States, a move which would offer his opponents a pretext to launch a "liberation war against the American puppets." The prince made clear that he would not call for foreign help to solve this problem and will try first to solve it directly with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.
The sharpening of these threats, however, induced Sihanouk to take new steps to reinforce Cambodia's neutrality. He indicated that if the United States would recognize Cambodia's neutrality and present borders, he would be ready to restore relations between the two countries. On April 16, the United States published a declaration recognizing the territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present borders. After the clarification of some misunderstandings as to the precise meaning of this declaration, Cambodia agreed on July 2 to resume diplomatic relations with the United States at the chargé d'affaires level.
To prevent this move from being interpreted as a major shift to the right of previous Cambodian foreign policy, Prince Sihanouk balanced it with two important decisions. First, Cambodia recognized the German Democratic Republic, although this policy caused a break in diplomatic relations with West Germany, whose economic aid had been much appreciated. Second, Cambodia granted diplomatic recognition to the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and to the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) of the Republic of South Vietnam on June 11, the day it was formed. The state visit to Cambodia of Huynh Tan Phat, president of the PRG, lessened the tension between Vietnam and Cambodia. The PRG assured the Cambodians that they would respect Cambodian borders and adhere to a policy of nonintervention in Khmer internal affairs. Hanoi gave the same assurances as did the PRG and promised that any infringements on Cambodian soil that the Vietnamese were compelled to make to wage the war would end once the conflict was over. During the visit to Hanoi of Prince Sihanouk, the only head of state to attend President Ho Chi Minh's funeral, Sihanouk, the Communist leaders of North Vietnam, and representatives of the Laotian and South Vietnamese insurgents pledged to strengthen Indochinese solidarity.
Relations with China remained friendly and were normalized by the return of a Chinese ambassador to Phnom Penh. Relations with the Soviet Union and France stayed very cordial.
Domestic politics and economy.
Cambodia's uneasy economic and financial situation and the development of leftist rebellions led to a strengthening of rightist, or conservative, tendencies in the capital. Certain groups demanded strong repression of leftist rebellion, liberalization of economic policy, and resumption of relations with and an acceptance of foreign aid from the United States. These demands, strengthened by a bad rice crop, the corresponding diminution in budgetary revenue and foreign earnings, and a decrease in aid from socialist countries, forced Cambodia to relax governmental controls and to rely more on external aid. Preferring multilateral rather than bilateral aid, Cambodia has turned to organizations such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the UN Development Program. Its adhesion to the International Monetary Fund is still pending. A new law, issued to encourage foreign investments, also clarified national economic policy.
Essentially, Cambodia's economic policy now aims to develop international tourism as a major source of foreign revenue, particularly by building modern hotels and new roads, and, above all, aims at implementing a large-scale irrigation program to increase agricultural production. A series of large dams, the first of which would be the Prek Thnot Dam, would permit irrigation on a wide scale, lead to a 50 percent increase in rice production, and thus allow surpluses of more than a million tons to be exported. Such an increase in exports would greatly improve the economic and financial situation of the country.
The 27th National Congress of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum (People's Socialist Community), Prince Sihanouk's party, resulted in a major political reshuffle. Sihanouk stressed the necessity of a policy of austerity and strict economy and made it clear that he would no longer accept responsibility for economic difficulties resulting from administrative clumsiness or shortsightedness. Premier Penn Nouth retired for reasons of health, and General Lon Nol was designated by the congress to lead a new government. He formed the new cabinet on August 13, in which he became defense minister and premier; three vice-premiers—Prince S. Sirik Matak, Ung Hong Sath, and Op Kim Ang—received broad domestic portfolios; and Norodom Phurissara kept the foreign ministry. The new government immediately made strict monetary decisions to devalue the riel, take new measures against smuggling, and make budgetary cuts, especially by postponing building projects in the administrative and educational fields. General Lon Nol also ruled out future nationalizations in order to encourage the foreign investments needed to implement Cambodia's second five-year plan. In addition, General Lon Nol's government tried to put a clear demarcation line between the powers of the government, which alone can pass laws and thus give orders to officials, and those of the head of state, whose duties are to give a general orientation to the state and to control the government's administration through the Sangkum.
Area and population.
Area, 69,800 sq. mi. Pop. (est. 1969), 6,900,000. Principal cities: Phnom Penh (cap.), 650,000; Battambang, 45,000; Kompong Cham, 33,000.
Limited constitutional monarchy with Parliament consisting of the Council of the Kingdom and the National Assembly. Head of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
Monetary unit, riel; 1 riel = US$0.0185. Budget (1968): balanced at 7 billion riels.
Imports, $76 million; exports, $85 million. Principal exports: rice, maize, rubber, pepper, cattle, fish. Principal imports: machinery, vehicles, textiles, oil.
Agriculture and industry.
Chief products: rice (1968-1969), 2,260,000 tons; maize (1967-1968), 154,000 tons; rubber, 51,000 tons; cotton; pepper; tobacco; timber. Limited industrial production.
Enrollment: primary, 1,025,000; secondary, 117,000; higher, 10,800; technical, 7,400.
Army, 45,000; air force, 2,500; navy, 1,350.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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