Cambodia: Will Hun Manet be more pro-US than his father?

West Point-trained heir apparent has more exposure to US but tilting away from his father’s pro-China policy isn’t likely on the cards.

Hun Manet, who trained at the US Military Academy at West Point, may become Cambodia’s next leader after his pro-China father, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, recently anointed him, prompting scrutiny about how the heir apparent would deal with Washington and Beijing.

Hun Sen, 69, is often scathing in his criticism of the US. He favors China’s deepening economic and strategic relationship with Cambodia, which is bordered by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, and opens toward the South China Sea where the US and Beijing are in a tense stand-off.

“Cambodia is far too deep in with China to be able to rebalance quickly” if Hun Manet becomes prime minister, said Ear Sophal, an Arizona State University associate dean and professor for global development who co-authored the book The Hungry Dragon: How China’s Resource Quest Is Reshaping the World.

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