It is time for US and Cambodia, in China’s shadow, to reset ties

Both sides need to repair rock-bottom relations with frank discussions.

Reports in July that China had reached a deal with Cambodia to establish a military base in the country — despite denials by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen — have deepened concerns about a growing great power rivalry in the Asia-Pacific region.

The strategic competition between China and the U.S. poses difficult questions for the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, none more so than for Cambodia.

U.S.-Cambodian relations are at their lowest point since the 1991 Paris Peace Accords were signed to end Cambodia’s 21-year civil war. Recent tensions have been exacerbated by the passage in July of the Cambodia Democracy Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, which threatened a cutoff in aid unless Phnom Penh undertook political reforms.

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