No Foreign Military Base Allowed in Cambodia, Hun Manet Tells the UN

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 22, 2023. Photo by Leonardo Munoz / AFP

PHNOM PENH — Cambodia will not authorize a foreign military base on its  territory and stands against interference in the internal affairs of and aggression against any independent nation, Prime Minister Hun Manet said on Sept. 22 as he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations for the first time. In his speech, he also touched on his government’s development and sustainable goals.

Despite its repeated denials, Cambodia has been under constant criticism over the development of the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk Province, which was done with the assistance of China ans was interpreted by some as a base that would be home to the Chinese military in the region.

In his address to the General Assembly, Hun Manet said that Cambodia will continue on its current path of an independent and neutral foreign policy—based on the rule of law, equal and mutual respect and adherence to the principles of the U.N. Charter—to promote its national interests, strengthen existing friendships and build additional amicable ties.

The country remains resolute against the threat or use of force in international relations, interference in the internal affairs of and aggression against other independent nations, he said.

“Cambodia shall not authorize any foreign military base on its territory, as clearly stated in its constitution,” Hun Manet stated. “Cambodia will not allow any country or any group to use its territory against another country.”

According to the prime minister, Cambodia will further endeavor to strengthen and expand good cooperation with nations around the world—through bilateral, regional and international frameworks—to contribute to global peace, security, stability, sustainable development and prosperity shared by all.

Speaking of the July 23 national elections in Cambodia, Hun Manet, who came to power one month ago, said that they had been widely assessed as free and fair, credible, and just by thousands of observers as 8.2 million people casted their ballots, which was a turnout rate of 84.59 percent.

This was, he said, “a clear indication of our people’s greater political maturity and enthusiasm in exercising their democratic rights.”

The prime minister also touted the role of peace in Cambodia’s development over the past decades, citing the steady decline in poverty rate and a 7 percent growth rate for many years before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020. Cambodia is in the process of transitioning from Least Developed to Developing Country status to be reached in 2027, he said.

Hun Manet then explained that his government’s Pentagon Strategy is being implemented in phase 1 in the five areas of growth, employment, equity, efficiency, and sustainability, and five key priorities: people, roads, water, electricity and technology.

“Cambodia will accelerate its governance reforms to ensure that our public administration runs efficiently with a high-level of integrity,” he said. “We will safeguard peace, political stability, security and social order, and maintain macro-economic stability.”

Moreover, the country will further enhance partnerships and cooperation for development, keep welcoming the support of all friendly partners, both technical and financial, to help Cambodia achieve its development and sustainable development goals while continuing to deepen its regional and global integration, Hun Manet said.

The prime minister also called for the restoring the strategic security trust among all nations and trust in the rules-based global system in which all states fully respect international laws and norms, and principles enshrined in the U.N. Charter.  

“We should strengthen and leverage the convening power of the U.N. system to help reignite global solidarity to build a safer and more prosperous world for all,” Hun Manet said.

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