PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen says a new ‘Cold War’ is a concern. Heng Chivoan

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself.

He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Speaking about the global geopolitical landscape, he said the longest period of stability and prosperity in modern times is being deeply shaken because the fundamental values underlying it as well as the core principles of international law are being flouted and no longer respected.

He observed that the trend of unilateralism and the exertion of force against weak countries is on the rise, undermining international order and multilateralism.

For instance, global commitments are unilaterally reneged on, violent blows are levelled against international institutions, and the voices of reason are stifled by the arbitrary practice of unilateral sanctions and other coercive political, economic and financial measures, all because the strongest countries uphold their interests above all else.

He said there is an abusive use of the right to interfere, which has taken on such a proportion that it undermines one of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter – the right of people to self-determination and national sovereignty. The damage to the current international order is cause for great concern, Hun Sen said.

“Also, the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has also become a significant concern because this small country, once caught amid a Cold War conflict, ideological rifts and nationalist fanatism, paid a very high price. Thus, we must reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself,” he said.

In addition to political geography, Hun Sen mentioned Covid-19, climate change and many other issues.

He concluded that it is up to the most powerful countries to stop threatening world peace and the survival of the planet as much as it is up to middle-powers to work together to ensure a new world order based on respecting the sovereignty of others and to have peaceful coexistence.

Kin Phea, the director-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the latest Cold War is aimed at geopolitical, economic and technological competitions rather than focusing on ideology and politics like the first one after World War II.

He said Cambodia became a victim of the competition of superpower countries during the first Cold War.

Also, over the last few years, he said, superpowers like the US and EU had interfered in the internal affairs of Cambodia and established a double standard against the Kingdom.

Phea said: “They have spoken a lot about human rights in Cambodia and used trade and political sanctions on Cambodia.

“The EU withdrew 20 per cent of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme from Cambodia as an existing example. But the EU still works with Vietnam, which is a communist country. They [the EU] don’t speak about democracy, they think only of their interests.”

Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Ou Chanroth is of the view that a new Cold War started over the last 10 years as a competition between the US and China.

Cambodia had suffered in the past from Cold War influences. Now, Cambodia must evade political influence and interference of powerful countries using the leadership of major politicians.

“We know that in the past, they could interfere in internal affairs because our nation had internal division. If the nation’s internal affairs were not divided, I believe that there would not have been problems at all.

“As a small country, we have to be even cleverer and shrewder than major countries because it’s like we are walking under the feet of an elephant. If we walk carelessly . . . if we misstep, the elephant will trample us,” he said.