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Cambodia: 1984

1956: Cambodia

1957: Cambodia
1958: Cambodia
1959: Cambodia
1960: Cambodia
1961: Cambodia
1962: Cambodia
1963: Cambodia
1964: Cambodia
1965: Cambodia
1966: Cambodia
1967: Cambodia
1968: Cambodia
1969: Cambodia
1970: Cambodia
1971: Cambodia
1972: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1973: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1974: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1975: Cambodia
1976: Cambodia
1977: Cambodia
1978: Cambodia
1979: Cambodia
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1981: Cambodia
1982: Cambodia
1983: Cambodia
1984: Cambodia
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1990: Cambodia
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1992: Cambodia
1993: Cambodia
1994: Cambodia
1995: Cambodia
1996: Cambodia
1997: Cambodia
1998: Archaeology: Radar Reveals Hidden Ruins in Cambodia
1998: Cambodia: Hun Sen Declares Election Victory
1998: Pol Pot Dies at 73
1998: Coalition Government

1984: Cambodia

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.


1984: Cambodia

The war in Cambodia (Kampuchea) entered its sixth year with no visible sign of an immediate solution. Vietnamese occupation forces, which had concluded a successful invasion of Cambodia early in 1979, controlled the capital city of Phnom Penh, all major towns, and most roadways. But the three major Cambodian resistance forces (the Communist Khmer Rouge, the non-Communist Khmer People's National Liberation Front, and Prince Norodom Sihanouk's National United Front) made new inroads in western Cambodia in 1984, cutting off highways and transportation routes deep inside the country.

Government and Politics.

The Heng Samrin regime, installed and protected by the Vietnamese occupation troops, took new steps to enhance its claim as the legitimate government of Cambodia, signing major trade protocols with East Germany, Hungary, and the Soviet Union, as well as with Vietnam.

For the first time the government also levied agricultural taxes. A tax based on land holdings was collected in the provinces, and another tax was levied on merchants selling goods in the free market; the latter measure prompted a small exodus of Chinese merchants from Phnom Penh to refugee camps in Thailand.

The number of Vietnamese settlers allowed in Cambodia rose for the second consecutive year, bringing the total in the country to at least 500,000. Some became petty merchants in the capital; others turned to fishing and farming. Vietnamese fishermen reportedly accounted for nearly one-third of the country's catch, much of which (as well as significant amounts of rice) was shipped to "sister provinces" in southern Vietnam. Some reports characterized the settlers as carpetbaggers, who were taking advantage of opportunities in ravaged Cambodia to enrich themselves personally. Cambodians also worried that Vietnamese was becoming virtually a required language in schools and government offices.

Internal War.

The 1984 dry season was marked by greater fighting in the interior of Cambodia than any previous year. Two resistance groups — the Communist Khmer Rouge army led by Pol Pot and the non-Communist Khmer People's National Liberation Front led by Son Sann — accounted for most of the fighting against the Vietnamese. The army of Phnom Penh, allied with the Vietnamese forces, continued to stay out of the main fighting. Sporadic exchanges occurred even during the rainy season, when guerrilla forces usually regroup and replenish supplies.

Early in the year the Khmer Rouge claimed to have struck against major Vietnamese installations in northwest Cambodia, including an oil depot near the Vietnamese military headquarters at Siem Reap. Both the KPNLF and the Khmer Rouge managed to close down enough roads and supply lines to force the Vietnamese to supply their troops by helicopter in parts of western Cambodia. The Phnom Penh regime and the Vietnamese conceded, that the resistance groups were gaining ground in the interior and affecting the peasants' ability to grow rice, as well as the Vietnamese army's ability to keep the roads open.

The Vietnamese mounted a major offensive against the resistance in April. They successfully attacked a Khmer Rouge logistics base but were rebuffed in an attempt to take over the headquarters of the KPNLF at Ampil. Ampil was heavily damaged, however, and the Vietnamese also attacked a KPNLF camp at Sokh San and a Khmer Rouge camp at Ban Scarat. Nearly 70,000 Cambodians fled the assaults, more than 40,000 taking refuge in Thailand. During the battles, Vietnamese soldiers pursued their adversaries into Thailand, prompting a Thai complaint to the United Nations. Vietnam responded that Thailand had violated Cambodian airspace in its support of Cambodian antigovernment guerrillas.

Resistance Groups.

Son Sann's KPNLF appeared to be gaining ground in 1984, after having watched the Khmer Rouge win far more recruits the previous year despite the record of massacres and horror during their rule from 1975 to early 1979. But both sides appeared to benefit from renewed fears of Vietnamese plans to colonize Cambodia.

China remained the chief source of military supplies for all resistance forces. The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) joined Son Sann this year in appealing to the United States to give arms to the non-Communist resistance, but the request was refused.

Foreign Affairs.

Vietnam continued its efforts to fashion a cohesive bloc out of the three former French colonies in Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), a bloc entirely dominated by Vietnam. The first Indochina foreign trade conference, held in Phnom Penh in June, led to new cooperation agreements signed by the three states. Later in the year, diplomatic approval of the Heng Samrin regime came from a more distant source, when five African states announced formal recognition of the government in Phnom Penh.

Diplomatic activity aimed at solving the deadlock over Cambodia reached an all-time low in 1984. The states of Asean said they would support efforts described by Prince Sihanouk to include the Heng Samrin regime in a government of national accord. But Vietnam said its troops would be withdrawn only after the Khmer Rouge and "their accomplices" — Sihanouk and Son Sann — were eliminated as a threat. This differed from Vietnam's previous demand that China be removed as the main threat.

Vietnam war veterans from the United States visited Phnom Penh in 1984 and secured a pledge from the Heng Samrin regime to search for American servicemen missing in action in Cambodia.

Relief Aid and Economic Survival.

Economic aid to the Phnom Penh regime continued to diminish, reflecting an overall pessimism over the possibility of finding a solution to its deadlock with the resistance forces. Communist countries gave aid to Phnom Penh. Non-Communist countries increased their relief aid to border regions and to non-Communist resistance groups; by and large they were no longer giving relief aid directly to the Heng Samrin government.

The Cambodian economy continued to perform below expectations. The Heng Samrin regime reported that factory output had doubled in 1983 but that the Cambodian people continued to be forced to trade precious rice and fish for simple manufactured goods from neighboring Vietnam. Cambodians again produced less rice than they needed; the 1984 estimated rice deficit was 177,000 tons. One aid group warned that if the situation did not improve, Cambodia could face a famine in 1985.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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