General Hun Manet stated that Cambodia would maintain a policy of treating all nations as friends now and in the future, with the understanding that the Kingdom must put its own national interests first.

Manet’s commentary came in response to what he said were queries by foreign friends about the future direction of Cambodia’s foreign policy and whether it will lean in one direction or another in terms of friendship.

In the video clip – posted to the Telegram channel of Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 3 – Manet said the present foreign policy of Cambodia in not one that shows favouritism towards China or any other country. Rather, the government’s intention is to follow a middle course and stay neutral while making every attempt to fulfil its avowed wishes to form close bonds with all of the world’s nations.

Manet – a future prime ministerial candidate for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and currently deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) – pointed out that under Cambodia’s present foreign policy, it enjoys close ties with China, the US, Japan and many other countries, regardless of their relations between each other.

He said that in the future, this policy will not change, and that the turmoil and mass death Cambodia faced in the 1970s was arguably an indirect result of the “Cold War” between the US and the former USSR.

“If you take a clear look, the policy of Cambodia day-to-day is not to cling to China, nor to anyone else. Cambodia stays neutral and follows a middle course. I can speak for the CPP because this foreign policy was one introduced by our party. As for other political parties, they have their own political platforms,” he stated.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Manet’s remarks were based in part on the new Article 53 of the Constitution.

“This new Article 53 makes it clear that our foreign policy is one of non-alignment. It means that Cambodia does not align so completely with any one country in the world so as to ensure that we can have good diplomatic relations with all nations,” he said.

However, he said Cambodia’s foreign policy can only work when its cooperative partners have the same good intentions and respect for its principles, but any nation that will respect this policy and Cambodia’s sovereignty will be welcomed by the Kingdom in friendship without consideration of the nature of their relations with any other third-party country.