Can Cambodia fill the gap left by EU sanctions with China FTA?

As China’s hard-handed diplomacy deepens its rifts with not only the U.S. and Australia, but also a previously friendly Europe, Cambodia has drawn attention as an example of how smaller countries can navigate the growing global divide.

Back in February, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited China despite the raging coronavirus outbreak there to meet with President Xi Jinping, who at their meeting essentially urged him not to cave in to European Union pressure.

The trip, which came about a week before the EU decided to scrap part of its preferential tariff treatment for Cambodia, triggered speculation that Beijing and Phnom Penh would sign a bilateral trade deal as early as August — perhaps the very day that the EU sanctions would take effect.

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