The Philippine city of Marawi was overrun by IS-linked insurgents in May 2017. The persistence of the insurgency has dragged out the battle with government forces. As of July 25, at least 453 militants, 109 government troops, and 45 civilians had been killed in the fighting.
Cambodia has recently become much closer to China in almost every respect, leading some scholars to label Cambodia-China relations as a client-patron relationship. Meanwhile, Cambodia’s bilateral relations with the US have been getting worse.
Currently, Cambodia’s foreign policy faces significant challenges amid great power rivalry for regional influence. The high-level official defense visits between China and Cambodia highlight the strong cooperation which is widely seen to be at the expense of the US.
US FONOPs in the South China Sea are controversial. Their targeting of China’s “excessive” claims there, their resumption under President Donald Trump, and China’s increasingly strident objections raise questions regarding their intent, effectiveness and necessity.
The relations between Cambodia and Thailand can be appropriately labelled as a love-hate relationship. Given their current political, economic and diplomatic relations, both countries can enhance their generally troubled relationship through a reciprocal exchange of mutual respect.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly declared that he is taking a hardline stance in law enforcement after Islamic radicals torched building structures and took human hostages in the southern city of Marawi.
In 1986, Vietnam instituted economic reforms known as Doi Moi. In 1995, former US President Bill Clinton normalized relations with Vietnam. With US support, Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization.
Some Cambodian scholars have commented that the country’s debt situation is manageable. However, one should take proactive measures to tackle the unpredictable backlash which could potentially derive from debt.
The most important area in which ASEAN can contribute is to bring about the ASEAN Community with cultures and historical backgrounds different from those of the European Union. The new global conditions present Southeast Asia with opportunities and challenges.
Some Cambodian political analysts have concluded that balancing between ASEAN and China on the contentious issue of the South China Sea is and will continue to be the most significant strategic challenge for Cambodia’s foreign policy in the 21st century.