For several years now, China has sought to increase its soft power, spending resources to do so, including through providing funding for its Belt and Road Initiative and Confucius Institutes. But its plan has not been very effective, not least because it is often perceived to use coercion more than persuasion. But after conducting rounds of vaccine diplomacy during Covid-19 pandemic, are its efforts finally bearing fruit?
While Cambodia is aware that its close relations with China may leave it vulnerable in many ways, it seems to think that this is still the better bet in light of shaky relations with the US and a historical distrust of Vietnam.
Sokvy Rim warns Cambodia against being over-reliant on China. As the saying goes, there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. As the US did in the past with policies that contributed to the rise of the Pol Pot regime, China could abandon Cambodia or take actions against its interests. What would Cambodia do then?