China' dominant threat in South China Sea teaches Hanoi and Hun Sen a different lesson, reminding how painful Hanoi has to deal with such a constant threat from its more powerful neighbor China while at the meantime Vietnam has persistently dominated its smaller neighbors, Cambodia and Laos by installing its satellite regimes to rule these two countries according to its whim. For Hun Sen, as most Cambodian people regard him as merely a Hanoi's puppet, he should learn the lesson from this aggravated dispute between China and Vietnam how they handle the crisis based on their national interest. To be a leader of sovereign nation, he should sacrifice all energies mentally and physically in order to defend national independence and interest at all cost in a more growing dangerous world.
During recent anti-China protest, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung praised and defended the Vietnamese patriotism and their legitimate rights to defend their territory as a sovereign nation though he publicly did not endorse any violent form against China's interests in the country. This is a typical nature of the sovereign nation leaders' action during crisis. They have to protect their national interest while at the same time to curb violence from out of control. As China seems gain upper hand on the dispute based on its superior military and economic power, those countries which have had loggerhead conflicts with China have seek military alliances with the US or the West to counter China's threat. Vietnam, has seeks alliances with the US, India, and even its former patron, Russia, in order to balance its power with China's growing menace even if some forms of those alliances are not visibly effective yet. However, Hanoi is more unlikely successful to lure its former boss, Russia, to bolster its position against China since Russia also tries to woo the heavy weight China to its camp against the West in Ukraine crisis while China also needs Russia behind it in facing with a tougher neighbor, Japan in East China Sea dispute.
|Chinese President Xi Jinping|
Vietnam, even though, lost two main island chains (Paracel and Spreadlys) to China, it has tried to contest the water bed that falls into its border line according to the international law covering the sea border lines. But China seems pay less attention to the new defined international water law than its historic claim. China has seen nothing wrong to conduct its oil drill in its claimed territory and vowed to defend it with all cost as declared by Chinese top General Fang Fenghui while visiting Washington recently, " China was ready to defend its territorial integrity; the territory which has passed down by our ancestors into the hands of our generation--we cannot to lose an inch." What has pushed China to move aggressively on the dispute is reflected from the situation in Crimea, Ukraine, where Russia had sent its special forces to capture the whole peninsula without a shot, encircling all Ukraine military bases and forcing them to surrender at the end. A quick repossession of a large chunk of land with two millions population without military confrontation or thread from the West has provided a good excuse for the other countries to follow suit. China had clearly perceived that the US and the West did not want to take risk in military confrontation with China in a small scale dispute such as South and East China Seas.
In addition, China wants to test the water how far the U.S. may react to such a small incident with Vietnam since it has no formal military alliance with Vietnam yet compared to Japan, South Korea, and Philippines. The picture already proved it while China navy harassed Vietnamese vessels on the dispute water, Chinese General stood with American Joint Chief of staff to address the situation with the press as a normal business day. Such a moment has confirmed that the U.S. has not committed any security commitment to Vietnam yet. On the other hand, China wants to contest American re-balance policy in Asia-Pacific, following President Obama's return home from his Asia's trip, China started to move its oil rig into contested water with Vietnam. A react from Washington is still mild though it called China's oil rig installation as a provocative action. Instead, China used this occasion warning its neighbors that Obama's re-balance power policy in Asia-Pacific has spoiled some countries in the region to act irresponsibly on their water disputes with China.
|Prime Minister Hun Sen|
Meanwhile, the China-Vietnam dispute has increasingly drawn more attention in Cambodia more than in China itself since Cambodia eventually falls into a tug-go-war between its two antagonistic masters--Hanoi and Beijing which have quietly competed each other to gain influence over Cambodia. Despite China has been viewed by the West as a Hun Sen's master, but actually Vietnam is Hun Sen's true master since Vietnam-Cambodia relationship has deep roots, and Hun Sen was anointed by Hanoi through its military invasion to rule Cambodia according to its whim since 1979. Moreover, Vietnam still covertly maintains its military, political, and economic networks throughout Cambodia via co-operation and friendship treaties between the two Communist Parties, the two armies, and Vietnamese-Cambodian friendship associations. Indeed, China has a strong influence on Cambodia economically and financially, but it has no political and military networks operated in Cambodia as if Vietnam has put in place. In short, China gains its influence over Cambodia more externally while Vietnam has more deeply and internally influence which is very complicated and hard to remove it.
China-Vietnam conflict not only put Hun Sen in awkward position on his foreign policy but taught him a good lesson how each individual sovereign nation tries to use its best ability to safeguard its territories. Vietnamese Prime Minister openly accused China of infringing all international laws and norms at ASEAN's Summit in Myanmar, and he defended the Vietnamese patriotism and angers as legitimate rights against the Chinese aggressors. In his recent visit to Manila, Nguyen Tan Dung also mulled a legal case against China at the ICJ in Hague along with Philippines which had already filed its case against China in the dispute. But Chinese leaders warned that although mass protest against their interests in Vietnam along with a looming legal action, they would not shed an inch of their territory. For Hun Sen, it's enough for him to hear all such rhetoric exchanges, and he should mull what must be done in order to safeguard Cambodian sovereignty. But, while China and Vietnam usually trade public accusation on each other over territorial row, Hun Sen quietly collaborated with Vietnam and even defended it on border encroachment and demarcation, resulted in loss a big chunk of Cambodian territory. Those who braved enough to speak up against unjust border treaty with Vietnam were imprisoned such as activists Mam Sonando, Rong Chunn, and the opposition leaders Kem Sokha in 2005, and Sam Rainsy who forced himself in exile to avoid a 12 year-prison term for the sake of defending Cambodian sovereignty in 2009.
Worse than that, Hun Sen not only threatened his people for jail term if they dare to defend Cambodian sovereignty, but he repeatedly used chicken language to insult all Cambodian people, publicly broadcasting on media, " Whoever want to retake Kampuchea Kom and Koh Tral from Vietnam, let go, I will make a coffin for you." Can we imagine that any leader in this world dare to use such a disgraceful language to his or her people who are struggling to defend their country? What would the Vietnamese people react if Nguyen Tan Dung said that whoever dare to retake Paracel and Spreadlys Islands from China, he would make a coffin for them? What would happen to Mexican President if he said to his people that whoever dare to take Texas back from the U.S., he would build a coffin for them? Albeit to retake Kampuchea Krom, Koh Tral, Paracel and Spreadlys Island, and Texas are more unlikely to success or equally to commit suicide, there is no any living leader in this world dares to speak such a self-inflicted and insulted language to his or her own people in any circumstance.
|Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung|
China-Vietnam conflict not only taught Vietnam a lesson how it feels as a victim of China's aggression but it also reflects to what Cambodia feels as a victim of Vietnam' expansionist policy. As human beings we share the same feeling: sad, regretful, angry, scared, happy, proud, and so on as our lives have faced different circumstances. So when Vietnamese people are angry with China's aggression on their sovereignty, Cambodian people also share the same feeling when Vietnam has encroached Cambodian territory and gradually swallowed the whole country via its proxy power, Hun Sen and his party, the CPP. Albeit Vietnam is constantly menaced by China, its probability of surviving such a threat is highly certain since China's threat to Vietnam is completely external: no Chinese political or military networks operated inside Vietnam. In contrast, Cambodia's probability to survive from Vietnam expansionist policy is highly uncertain since Vietnam strongly has built up its political, economic, and military networks throughout Cambodia via its large immigrant population and the so-called numerous friendship treaties and co-operations between the two countries, which Hanoi has imposed on its satellite regime. To gain more support and sympathy from international community on its struggle against China's aggression, Vietnam should renounce its double standard foreign policy when on international stage, it tries to show the world that it is a real victim of China's aggression while at the same time Vietnam is also a true aggressor and expansionist on the eyes of Cambodian and Laos peoples. As a real victim country of expansionist policy, Cambodia should neither endorse China nor Vietnam's aggression but mutual respect in order to strengthen its neutrality and to create a sustainable peace in the region.