France visit offers ‘margin of manoeuvre’ in Cambodia’s bid to ease reliance on China

A ‘counterbalancing’ approach could work for France as Cambodia will not be against ‘marginal diversification’ from its close ties with China, analysts say

Cambodian leader Hun Manet’s visit to France last week to discuss defence cooperation, among other issues, gives the Southeast Asian nation “a margin of manoeuvre” of counterbalancing its over-reliance on China, analysts have said.

Together with Cambodia’s increased security cooperation with Japan, foreign policy experts said the Paris trip represented Phnom Penh’s tilt “towards diversification” as it sought to hedge its bets among the great powers vying for dominance in the region.

During Manet’s state visit to France on Thursday and Friday, he met French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace, where Paris confirmed that it would provide €200 million (US$217 million) in support of Cambodia’s vocational training, energy, and water treatment sectors.

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