Cambodia drawn ever closer to China a year after EU sanctions

US keeps up trade as Western counterweight to patron's pull.

In the year since the European Union imposed sanctions on Cambodia, the Southeast Asian country has turned to China to blunt the economic impact, deepening its dependence on its main patron.

Brussels last August partially revoked the largely duty-free market access that Phnom Penh had enjoyed since 2001, citing human rights abuses including a crackdown on political opposition. The move reimposed standard tariffs on products amounting to about 20% of Cambodia’s exports to the bloc, including travel goods, some apparel and sugar.

But while the measure did cut into Cambodia’s exports to one of its largest markets, growing trade with China has helped Prime Minister Hun Sen shrug off the EU’s demands, underscoring the uphill battle Western countries face in promoting their values.

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