After the Khmer Empire was overthrown in the 15th century, relations between Cambodia and Vietnam have gone through many different phases. The two countries have had periods of both tension and friendship, as well as times of both conflict and cooperation. In modern times, the two are now considered to be close allies, with Cambodia relying heavily on Vietnam for political, economic, and military support. Despite their past differences, both countries have taken steps to improve their relationship in recent years, through increased economic and cultural exchanges, as well as joint military exercises.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Cambodia established formal diplomatic relations on June 24, 1967. However, the alliance has faced numerous difficulties, both domestically and internationally.

Despite ups and downs in their relations, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, Cambodia and Vietnam have been able to sustain friendly relations over the past 40 years.

In describing their current relationship, both nations often use phrases such as “excellent neighborliness, traditional friendliness, comprehensive cooperation, and long-lasting stability”. This emphasizes the strong bond between the two countries, characterized by mutual respect and understanding. Such cooperation has enabled them to build a solid foundation that will benefit both nations for many years to come.

In 1999, Vietnam welcomed Cambodia as the 10th member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when it held the ASEAN Chair. This marked the completion of the ASEAN, as Cambodia had become the final nation to join the organization.

Vietnam is credited with playing a crucial role in rescuing Cambodia from the cruel and oppressive Khmer Rouge regime. Under the Khmer Rouge, nearly two million Cambodians were killed in a horrifying genocide. Vietnam’s intervention in the late 1970s helped to end this reign of terror and restore peace and security in the region.

Since joining ASEAN, Cambodia has collaborated with Vietnam and the other ASEAN nations to actively promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region. By leveraging the collective strength of the regional bloc, Cambodia has been able to make great strides in terms of economic development, technological innovation, and social progress. As a member of ASEAN, Cambodia is committed to upholding the values of the organization and helping to further the shared goals of its member countries.

Although Vietnam helped liberate Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge dictatorship, many Western academics refer to this involvement as an “invasion.” However, the Vietnamese government maintains that this was an act of solidarity and assistance rather than an act of aggression.

This historical fact should not be discounted, misrepresented, or politicized, and should not be allowed to foster a climate of hostility and prejudice between Vietnamese and Cambodians.

Since Cambodia and Vietnam are neighbors who must always be close to each other, their cooperation offers many advantages for promoting prosperity and peace in both countries.

In contrast, living close to one another does not always guarantee harmony. Quarrels between neighbors are inevitable, as people are naturally prone to disagreeing. Even couples who are supposed to be in a lasting, committed relationship may experience occasional conflict.

The constant border conflict between the two nations stems from the incomplete demarcation of their land border – one of the main points of contention. Indeed, the undefined border regions remain a cause for concern, leading to ongoing disputes and tensions between the two countries.

Dr. Sam Seun, Policy Analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia in a supplied photo
Dr. Sam Seun, Policy Analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia in a supplied photo

Despite their relationship difficulties, Vietnam has openly declared its support for Cambodia during its ASEAN chairmanship.

Vietnamese officials have traveled to the Kingdom of Cambodia to express their solidarity and demonstrate their support for the country ahead of its ASEAN Chairmanship. The diplomatic mission is expected to strengthen the friendship between the two nations and further enhance collaboration on regional and international issues.

The governments of the two nations continue to maintain excellent relations. Numerous Cambodian students have received generous scholarships to study in Vietnam in a variety of professions, and many Vietnamese citizens find employment in Cambodia.

Even if we have occasional problems, they can be solved because we cannot separate and live separately, just like tongue and teeth, which must coexist for each other’s prosperity and development.

It is essential that Cambodia and Vietnam find a way for their people to live peacefully together, at all levels, due to the fact that nature has brought them together as neighboring countries. Living in close proximity to one another, it is vital that both countries come to an agreement in order to ensure harmony and coexistence.

All in all, Cambodia and Vietnam should take comprehensive measures to speed up the border demarcation procedure in order to address and alleviate the difficulties they are facing.

The Cambodian government should take steps to address the issue of Vietnamese immigrants and also find ways to assuage the dissenting sentiments among the Cambodian populace concerning historical issues related to Vietnam. By taking such initiatives, the government can help bridge the divide between the two countries and foster a more harmonious relationship. It is important that the government consider the concerns of both sides and find a mutually beneficial solution. Furthermore, it should also ensure that all immigrants are treated with dignity and respect and are not subjected to any kind of discrimination. Additionally, greater dialogue between the two nations is crucial to resolving the matter for the long-term.

The two governments should also create more effective mechanisms to allow Cambodian and Vietnamese citizens to deepen their understanding of each other, as this is critically important for peaceful coexistence and sustaining peace and stability between the two countries.

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