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.
An obscure figure designated by the pseudonym Pol Pot was identified this fall as Cambodia's premier and as secretary of the Central Committee of its hitherto officially unacknowledged Communist Party. The identification was made prior to Pol Pot's departure in late September on a visit to Peking, where he was feted at a state banquet.
In February, Cambodia foiled preparations for a coup attempt, according to a statement made in August by General Kriangsak Chamanand, deputy supreme commander of Thailand's armed forces. The abortive coup was allegedly planned to coincide with the second anniversary, in April, of the Communist victory in Cambodia's civil war. General Kriangsak also claimed that a bloody purge of senior officials and military officers had been carried out in the wake of the coup attempt.
Social and economic developments.
In a speech at a mass rally on April 15 to commemorate the Communists' capture of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, Khieu Samphan, the nominal head of state, said major progress had been made in improving the economy. But the speech also gave some indication of the gravity of Cambodia's economic situation. While reiterating the Cambodian government's commitment to economic development through "complete self-reliance and independence," Khieu Samphan acknowledged that the Cambodian economy has "suffered untold difficulties." Noting that "we have no machines, we do everything by mainly relying on the strength of our people," he did claim that agricultural production during the first three months of 1977 "far exceeded" that of 1976, providing a surplus of rice. But Cambodian refugees and foreign observers reported spreading hunger and disease, repeated crop failures, and disintegrating irrigation systems.
In July testimony given before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations suggested that tens of thousands of Cambodians had been executed since the Communist takeover and hundreds of thousands had perished as a consequence of malnutrition and disease, in particular malaria. The forced movement of city dwellers into the countryside; the crude collectivization of agriculture, which is believed to have reduced rice yields by 25-50 percent; and a harsh regime of forced labor are also believed to have contributed to the high mortality rate. Pol Pot, in a news conference in Peking, said the city evacuations had been ordered to break up "enemy spy organizations."
In January, shortly after anti-Communist Cambodian insurgents had retreated across the border into Thailand, the Cambodian Foreign Ministry warned against any encroachment upon the country's national independence, state sovereignty, and territorial integrity. At the end of the month, Cambodian army units launched a raid against three Thai border villages near the town of Aranyaprathet, killing some 30 civilians, including women and children. In February the Cambodian embassy in Peking issued a communiqué in which Thailand was charged with responsibility for numerous frontier incidents and accused of repeated acts of aggression since the seizure of power by the Thai military in October 1976. Apparently justifying the attack on the Thai villages, the note claimed Cambodia was "arranging its internal affairs in these three villages." Border intrusions continued through the year.
Military clashes were apparently not confined to the Thai border. Reports emanating from Thailand and Vietnam, and confirmed implicitly by Cambodian radio broadcasts and also by Vietnamese refugees, indicated fighting along the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. Radio Phnom Penh made reference to Cambodian army activity that implied border clashes with Laos as well.
In March, Ieng Sary, deputy premier for foreign affairs, embarked on a major tour of southern Asian non-Communist countries, traveling to Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Perhaps signaling an end to Cambodia's self-imposed virtual international isolation, he expressed interest in trade and economic cooperation.
Perhaps even more significant was the warmth of the reception accorded Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, and other top leaders on their autumn visit to Peking. The simultaneous public acknowledgement that Cambodia's key leaders were Communists was apparently a concession to Peking, which reportedly had been angered by official professions of nonalignment. Pol Pot went from China to North Korea for a four-day visit in early October and then returned to China for an additional ten days.
Meanwhile, Cambodia continued to maintain a hard line toward the United States. A request from the U.S. government, through its Liaison Office in Peking, to send an official mission to Phnom Penh or to meet with a Cambodian delegation anywhere in Southeast Asia was rejected, on the grounds that since April 1975 "the U.S. imperialists and their lackeys of all kinds have always carried on their criminal activities against the people of [Cambodia]."
In August, in an apparent attempt to demonstrate political normalcy in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian government hosted U Hla Phone, the Burmese foreign minister. It was the first visit to the Cambodian capital by a non-Communist minister since the Communist takeover.
Area and population.
Area, 69,898 sq. mi. Pop. (est. 1977), 8 million. Phnom Penh (cap.), between 40,000 and 100,000.
Socialist state. Head of state, Khieu Samphan; prem. and Communist Party secy., Pol Pot.
Former monetary unit, riel; no local currency used and no international exchange value quoted.
Principal trading partners: China, Hong Kong, Japan.
Armed forces (est. 1977),
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
| Home | Biography | Résumé | Album | Family |
Cambodia: | Information | Maps | Pictures | Web Guide |
| Web Guide | Search | Contact Me | Guestbook || Guestbook |
Back to the top