Country Background Notes, 1990-93

Background Notes, 1990

Background Notes: Cambodia

PA/PC Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Date: Dec 15, 199012/15/90 Category: Country Data Region: Southeast Asia Country: Cambodia Subject: Cultural Exchange, Resource Management, Military Affairs, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics, Regional/Civil Unrest [TEXT] Official Name: Cambodia


Area: 181,040 sq. km. (69,900 sq. mi.); about the size of Missouri. Cities: Capital-Phnom Penh (pop. 400,000 est.). Other cities- Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham, Kompong Som, Kompong Thom. Terrain: Central plain drained by the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and Mekong and Bassac Rivers. Heavy forests away from the rivers and the lake, mountains in the southwest (Cardamom Mountains) and north (Dangrek Mountains) along the border with Thailand. Climate: Tropical monsoon with rainy season June-Oct. and dry season Nov.- May.
Nationality: Noun and adjective: Cambodian(s), Khmer. Population: (1989) 6.8 million. Avg. annual growth rate: 2.2%. Births: 39 births/1000 population (1989). Deaths: 17 deaths/1000 population . Infant mortality: 131 deaths/1000 live births. Life expectancy: 47 years male/50 years female. Ethnic groups: Cambodian 90%; Chinese and Vietnamese 5% each; small numbers of hill tribes, Chams, and Burmese. Religions: Theravada Buddhism 95%; Islam; animism; atheism. Languages: Khmer (official) spoken by more than 95% of the population, including minorities; some French still spoken. Literacy: approximately 50%.
Government is disputed between the resistance groups of the National Government of Cambodia (NGC)-which formerly called itself the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK)- and the Vietnamese-installed authorities in Phnom Penh: the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK)-which now calls itself the State of Cambodia. No single authority controls the entire country. Administrative subdivisions: 19 provinces and municipalities. Independence: November 9, 1953. Constitution: PRK: April 30, 1989. Elections: None. Political parties and leaders: NGC: umbrella organization for the three resistance groups, including National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC) led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk; Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) led by Son Sann; and the Party of Democratic Kampuchea (the Khmer Rouge) ostensibly led by Khieu Samphan (all since July 1982); PRK: Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP), the Communist party installed by Vietnam in 1979, led by Heng Samrin, KPRP General Secretary and Chairman of the Council of State since 1981, and Hun Sen, Chairman of the Council of Ministers since 1985. Diplomatic Relations: NGC: Brunei, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Yugoslavia; PRK: Vietnam, Laos, Soviet Union, most East European countries, India, Libya, Cuba, Nicaragua, Seychelles, and the Saharan Democratic Arab Republic. Flag: NGC-two horizontal blue bands, divided by a wider red band on which is centered a white stylized representation of Angkor Wat; PRK-a red field with five stylized yellow towers.
GDP: $570 million (1984). Per capita GDP: $90 (1984). Natural resources: Timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese and phosphate, hydroelectric potential from the Mekong River. Agriculture: About 4,848,000 hectares (12 million acres) are unforested land; all are arable with irrigation but less than two million hectares are cultivated. Products: Rice, rubber, corn, meat, vegetables, dairy products, sugar, flour. Industry: Types-rice milling, fishing, wood and wood products, textiles, cement, some rubber production (largely abandoned since 1975).
Exports: $3 million (1986)-natural rubber, rice, pepper, wood; Major partners: Vietnam, USSR, Eastern Europe, Japan, India; Imports: $17 million (1986)-international food aid, fuels, consumer goods; Major Partners: Vietnam, USSR, Eastern Europe, Japan, India. Exchange rate: Approximately 400 riels = $1 (1990). Economic Aid: Unknown amount from USSR and Eastern Europe to areas under PRK control. Some humanitarian aid from the UN and private groups. UN relief efforts coordinated by the Secretary General's Special Representative for Kampuchean Humanitarian Assistance provide more than $58 million per year in assistance (cash and in-kind contributions) for displaced Cambodians along the Thai-Cambodian border.
Membership in International Organizations:
UN and some of its specialized agencies, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (both unattended since 1975); Asian Development Bank (ADB); Group of 77; World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); PRK: none.


Although Cambodia had a rich and powerful past under the Hindu state of Funan and the Kingdom of Angkor, by the mid-19th century the country was on the verge of dissolution. After repeated requests for French assistance, a protectorate was established in 1863. By 1884, Cambodia was a virtual colony; soon after it was made part of the Indochina Union with Annam, Tonkin, Cochin-China, and Laos. France continued to control the country even after the start of World War II through its Vichy government. In 1945, the Japanese dissolved the colonial administration, and King Norodom Sihanouk declared an independent, anti-colonial government under Prime Minister Son Ngoc Thanh in March 1945. This government was deposed by the Allies in October. Many of Son Ngoc Thanh's supporters escaped and continued to fight for independence as the Khmer Issarak. Although France recognized Cambodia as an autonomous kingdom within the French Union, the drive for total independence continued, resulting in a split between those who supported the political tactics of Sihanouk and those who supported the Khmer Issarak guerilla movement. In January 1953, Sihanouk named his father as regent and went into self-imposed exile, refusing to return until Cambodia gained genuine independence.
Full Independence
Sihanouk's actions hastened the French government's July 4, 1953 announcement of its readiness to "perfect" the independence and sovereignty of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Full independence came on November 9, 1953, but the situation remained unsettled until a 1954 conference was held in Geneva to settle the French- Indochina war . All participants, except the United States and the State of Vietnam, associated themselves (by voice) with the final declaration. The Cambodian delegation agreed to the neutrality of the three Indochinese states but insisted on a provision in the ceasefire agreement that left the Cambodian government free to call for outside military assistance should the Viet Minh or others threaten its territory.
Neutral Cambodia
Neutrality was the central element of Cambodian foreign policy during the 1950s and 1960s. Sihanouk announced the policy in 1955 and reaffirmed it in refusing to join the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). This policy, and Cambodia's close relations with communist countries, was unwelcome to its neighbors, Thailand and South Vietnam, resulting in a break in diplomatic relations with both nations. By the mid-1960s, parts of Cambodia's eastern provinces were serving as bases for North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong (NVA/VC) forces operating against South Vietnam, and the port of Sihanoukville was being used to supply them. As NVA/VC activity grew, the United States and South Vietnam became concerned, and in 1969, the United States began a series of air raids against NVA/VC base areas inside Cambodia. Throughout the 1960s, domestic politics polarized. The middle class opposed Sihanouk's foreign policy and resented his increasingly autocratic rule, as did the leftists including Paris- educated leaders such as Son Sen, Ieng Sary, and Saloth Sar (later known as Pol Pot), who led an insurgency under the clandestine Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). Sihanouk called these insurgents the Khmer Rouge, literally the "Red Khmer." But the 1966 national assembly elections showed a significant swing to the right, and Gen. Lon Nol formed a new government, which lasted until 1967. During 1968 and 1969, the insurgency worsened, and Prince Sihanouk became increasingly alarmed at the growing NVA/VC presence in eastern Cambodia and growing anti-Vietnamese sentiment. Sihanouk's diplomatic efforts to persuade the Vietnamese to leave were unsuccessful. In August 1969, Sihanouk asked Gen. Lon Nol to form a new government, which began to exclude the prince from decision-making. Under increasing pressure from conservatives in the national assembly, Sihanouk went abroad for medical treatment in January 1970.
The Khmer Republic and the War
In March 1970, the National Assembly withdrew its confidence from Sihanouk, declared a state of emergency, and gave full power to Prime Minister Lon Nol. Son Ngoc Thanh announced his support for the new government. On October 9, the Cambodian monarchy was abolished, and the country was renamed the Khmer Republic. Hanoi rejected the new republic's request for the withdrawal of NVA/VC troops and began to reinfiltrate some of the 2,000- 4,000 Cambodians who had gone to North Vietnam in 1954. They became a cadre in the insurgency. Prince Sihanouk joined with the insurgents to form the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea (RGNU) in exile in Beijing. The prestige of his name assisted the insurgents in attracting new recruits from the peasantry, but control of the movement rested with the communist party under the nominal leadership of Khieu Samphan-of the Paris- educated faction of the Communist party, rather than a Hanoi returnee. The Khmer Republic initially enjoyed broad support from the middle classes in the cities and towns, but much of the peasantry was politically apathetic or loyal to Prince Sihanouk. The United States moved to provide material assistance to the new government's armed forces, which were engaged against both the Khmer Rouge insurgents and NVA/VC forces. In April 1970, US and South Vietnamese forces entered Cambodia in a campaign aimed at destroying NVA/VC base areas. Although a considerable quantity of equipment was seized or destroyed, NVA/VC forces proved elusive and moved deeper into Cambodia. NVA/VC units overran many Cambodian army positions while the Khmer Rouge expanded their small-scale attacks on lines of communication. The Khmer Republic's leadership was plagued by disunity among its three principal figures: Lon Nol, Sihanouk's cousin Sirik Matak, and National Assembly leader In Tam. Lon Nol remained in power in part because none of the others was prepared to take his place. In 1972, a constitution was adopted, a parliament elected, and Lon Nol became president. But disunity, the problems of transforming a 30,000-man army into a national combat force of more than 200,000 men, and spreading corruption weakened the civilian administration and army and drained the enthusiastic urban support so prevalent just after Sihanouk was deposed. The insurgency continued to grow, with supplies and military support provided by North Vietnam. But inside Cambodia, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary asserted their dominance over the Vietnamese- trained communists, many of whom were purged. At the same time, the Khmer Rouge forces became stronger and more independent of their Vietnamese patrons. By 1973, the Khmer Rouge were fighting major battles against government forces on their own, and they controlled nearly 60% of Cambodia's territory and 25% of its population. At the same time, concern about continued US support began to affect the republic's morale. The government made three unsuccessful attempts to enter into negotiations with the insurgents, but by 1974, the Khmer Rouge were operating as divisions, and virtually all NVA/VC combat forces had moved into South Vietnam. Lon Nol's control was reduced to small enclaves around the cities and main transportation routes. More than 2 million refugees from the war lived in Phnom Penh and other cities. On New Year's Day 1975, communist troops launched an offensive which, in 117 days of the hardest fighting of the war, destroyed the Khmer Republic. Simultaneous attacks around the perimeter of Phnom Penh pinned down republican forces, while other Khmer Rouge units overran fire bases controlling the vital lower Mekong resupply route. A US-funded airlift of ammunition and rice ended when Congress refused additional aid for Cambodia. Phnom Penh and other cities were subjected to daily rocket attacks causing thousands of civilian casualties. Phnom Penh surrendered on April 17-5 days after the US mission evacuated Cambodia.
Democratic Kampuchea
Many Cambodians welcomed the arrival of peace, but the Khmer Rouge soon turned Cambodia-which it called Democratic Kampuchea (DK)-into a land of horror. Immediately after its victory, the new regime ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns, sending the entire urban population out into the countryside to till the land. Thousands starved or died of disease during the evacuation. Many of those forced to evacuate the cities were resettled in "new villages," which lacked food, agricultural implements, and medical care. Many starved before the first harvest, and hunger and malnutrition-bordering on starvation-were constant during those years. Those who resisted or who questioned orders were immediately executed, as were most military and civilian leaders of the former regime who failed to disguise their pasts. Prince Sihanouk returned from exile with members of the RGNU, but the communist party held all significant power. Within the CPK, the Paris-educated leadership-Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, and Son Sen-was in control. A new constitution in January 1976 established Democratic Kampuchea as a communist "people's republic", and a 250-member "Assembly of the Representatives of the People of Kampuchea" (PRA) was selected in March to choose the collective leadership of a State Presidium, the chairman of which became the head of state. Sihanouk resigned as head of state on April 4, and RGNU Prime Minister Penn Nouth announced the resignation of the RGNU cabinet April 6. On April 14, after its first session, the PRA announced that Khieu Samphan would chair the State Presidium for a 5-year term. It also picked a 15-member cabinet headed by Pol Pot as prime minister. Prince Sihanouk was put under virtual house arrest. The new government sought to restructure Cambodian society completely. Remnants of the old society were abolished and Buddhism suppressed. Agriculture was collectivized, and the surviving part of the industrial base was abandoned or placed under state control. Cambodia had neither a currency nor a banking system. The regime controlled every aspect of life and reduced everyone to the level of abject obedience through terror. Torture centers were established, and detailed records were kept of the thousands murdered there. Public executions of those considered unreliable or with links to the previous government were common. Few succeeded in escaping the military patrols and fleeing the country. Solid estimates of the numbers who died between 1975 and 1979 are not available, but it is likely that hundreds of thousands were brutally executed by the regime. Hundreds of thousands more died of starvation and disease (both under the Khmer Rouge and during the Vietnamese invasion in 1978). Estimates of the dead range from 1 to 3 million, out of a 1975 population estimated at 7.3 million. Democratic Kampuchea's relations with Vietnam and Thailand worsened rapidly as a result of border clashes and ideological differences. While communist, the CPK was fiercely anti- Vietnamese, and most of its members who had lived in Vietnam were purged. Democratic Kampuchea established close ties with China, and the Cambodian-Vietnamese conflict became part of the Sino-Soviet rivalry, with Moscow backing Vietnam. Border clashes worsened when Democratic Kampuchea's military attacked villages in Vietnam. The regime broke relations with Hanoi in December 1977, protesting Vietnam's attempt to create an "Indochina Federation." In mid-1978, Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, advancing about 30 miles before the arrival of the rainy season brought a halt to the Vietnamese advance. In December 1978, Vietnam announced formation of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS) under Heng Samrin, a former DK division commander. It was composed of Khmer communists who had remained in Vietnam after 1975 and Khmer Rouge officials from the eastern sector-like Heng Samrin and Hun Sen-who had fled to Vietnam from Cambodia in 1978. In late December 1978, Vietnamese forces launched a full invasion of Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh on January 7 and driving the remnants of Democratic Kampuchea's army westward toward Thailand.
The Vietnamese Occupation
On January 10, 1979, the Vietnamese installed Heng Samrin as head of state in the new People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). The Vietnamese army continued its pursuit of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge forces. At least 600,000 Cambodians displaced during the Pol Pot era and the Vietnamese invasion began streaming to the Thai border in search of refuge. The international community responded with a massive relief effort coordinated by the United States through UNICEF and the World Food Program. More than $400 million was provided between 1979 and 1982, of which the United States contributed nearly $100 million. At one point, more than 500,000 Cambodians were living along the Thai-Cambodian border and more than 100,000 in holding centers inside Thailand. Currently, there are approximately 300,000 Cambodian displaced persons and refugees residing in camps in Thailand. Vietnam's occupation army of as many as 200,000 troops controlled the major population centers and most of the countryside from 1979 to September 1989. The Heng Samrin regime's 30,000 troops were plagued by poor morale and widespread desertion. Resistance to Vietnam's occupation continued, and there was some evidence that Heng Samrin's PRK forces provided logistic and moral support to the guerrillas. A large portion of the Khmer Rouge's military forces eluded Vietnamese troops and established themselves in remote regions. The non-communist resistance, consisting of a number of groups which had been fighting the Khmer Rouge after 1975-including Lon Nol-era soldiers-coalesced in 1979-80 to form the Khmer People's National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF), which pledged loyalty to former Prime Minister Son Sann, and Moulinaka (Movement pour la Liberation Nationale de Kampuchea), loyal to Prince Sihanouk. In 1979, Son Sann formed the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) to lead the political struggle for Cambodia's independence. Prince Sihanouk formed his own organization, FUNCINPEC, and its military arm, the Armee Nationale Sihanoukienne (ANS) in 1981. Warfare followed a wet season/dry season rhythm after 1980. The heavily-armed Vietnamese forces conducted offensive operations during the dry seasons, and the resistance forces held the initiative during the rainy seasons. In 1982, Vietnam launched a major offensive against the main Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Melai in the Cardamom Mountains. Vietnam switched its target to civilian camps near the Thai border in 1983, launching a series of massive assaults, backed by armor and heavy artillery, against camps belonging to all three resistance groups. Hundreds of civilians were injured in these attacks, and more than 80,000 were forced to flee to Thailand. Resistance military forces, however, were largely undamaged. In the 1984-85 dry season offensive, the Vietnamese attacked base camps of all three resistance groups. Despite stiff resistance from the guerrillas, the Vietnamese succeeded in eliminating the camps in Cambodia and drove both the guerrillas and civilian refugees into neighboring Thailand. The Vietnamese concentrated on consolidating their gains during the 1985-86 dry season, including an attempt to seal guerrilla infiltration routes into the country by forcing Cambodian laborers to construct trench and wire fence obstacles and minefields along virtually the entire Thai-Cambodian border. Within Cambodia, Vietnam had only limited success in establishing its client Heng Samrin regime, which was dependent on Vietnamese advisors at all levels. Security in some rural areas was tenuous, and major transportation routes were subject to interdiction by resistance forces. The presence of Vietnamese throughout the country and their intrusion into nearly all aspects of Cambodian life alienated much of the populace. The settlement of Vietnamese nationals, both former residents and new immigrants, further exacerbated anti-Vietnamese sentiment. Reports of the numbers involved vary widely with some estimates as high as 1 million. By the end of this decade, Khmer nationalism began to reassert itself against the traditional Vietnamese enemy. In 1986, Hanoi claimed to have begun withdrawing part of its occupation forces. At the same time, Vietnam continued efforts to strengthen its client regime, the PRK, and its military arm, the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Armed Forces (KPRAF). These withdrawals continued over the next 2 years, although actual numbers were difficult to verify. Vietnam's proposal to withdraw its remaining occupation forces in 1989-90-the result of ongoing international pressure-forced the PRK to begin economic and constitutional reforms in an attempt to ensure future political dominance. In April 1989, Hanoi and Phnom Penh announced that final withdrawal would take place by the end of September 1989. The military organizations of Prince Sihanouk (ANS) and of former Prime Minister Son Sann (KPNLAF) underwent significant military improvement during the 1988-89 period and both expanded their presence in Cambodia's interior. These organizations provide a political alternative to the Vietnamese-supported People's Republic of Kampuchea [PRK] and the murderous Khmer Rouge. After two regional peace efforts, Prince Sihanouk, Son Sann, and Hun Sen (Prime Minister of the Phnom Penh regime) met in Jakarta in May 1989 to try to find a formula for national reconciliation. Hun Sen proposed including key leaders of the resistance groups under the PRK mantle, through their participation in a mostly cosmetic National Reconciliation Council to oversee eventual elections. Prince Sihanouk and the other resistance leaders rejected this proposal as legitimizing the Phnom Penh regime and allowing the continuation of its unilateral control, which they felt was not likely to result in a free and fair election process. From July 30 to August 30, 1989, representatives of 18 countries, the four Cambodian parties, and the UN Secretary General met in Paris in an effort to negotiate a comprehensive settlement. They hoped to achieve those objectives seen as crucial to the future of post-occupation Cambodia: a verified withdrawal of the remaining Vietnamese occupation troops, the prevention of the return to power of the Khmer Rouge, and genuine self-determination for the Cambodian people. The Paris Conference on Cambodia was able to make some progress in such areas as the workings of an international control mechanism, the definition of international guarantees for Cambodia's independence and neutrality, plans for the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons, the eventual reconstruction of the Cambodia economy, and ceasefire procedures. However, complete agreement among all parties on a comprehensive settlement remained elusive. In early 1990, the negotiating process continued through consultations with a view toward finalizing a comprehensive solution by reconvening the Paris Conference in the future. By late September 1989, the Vietnamese announced that they had withdrawn the last 50,000 of their troops from Cambodia. However, this withdrawal was not verified by a credible monitoring force. Nonetheless, with the Vietnamese occupation no longer a primary concern, the crucial issue for the future is the ability of the four principal Cambodian political factions-the non-communists (consisting of Prince Sihanouk's FUNCINPEC and Son Sann's KPNLF), the Vietnamese-sponsored Phnom Penh regime, and the Khmer Rouge -to establish a national reconciliation process.


Although driven from Phnom Penh in 1979, the government of Democratic Kampuchea continued to function in areas it controlled near the Thai border. Pol Pot was nominally replaced as leader of the regime by Khieu Samphan but continued to serve as commander- in-chief of its army. In September 1985, Pol Pot announced his retirement from the Khmer Rouge. Many observers believe he is still its principal leader. The Khmer Rouge have made an effort to convince the Cambodian people, as well as the rest of the world, that they have changed their policies. Buddhism has been revived, to a degree, and private agriculture encouraged. In Khmer Rouge areas, the society remains controlled thoroughly from the top. In 1981, the Communist Party of Kampuchea was formally dissolved, although most observers believe it has continued as the clandestine group it was before 1975. In its place, a Party of Democratic Kampuchea was created as the public political arm of the Khmer Rouge. In June 1982, the members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) promoted agreement between the Khmer Rouge and the two principal non-communist resistance groups, the KPNLF and FUNCINPEC, to form a loose coalition. The newly formed Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) included Prince Sihanouk as President and chief of state, Son Sann as prime minister and head of government, and Khieu Samphan as vice president of foreign affairs. Since 1982, Prince Sihanouk has, on several occasions, resigned and then resumed his position as president. The CGDK changed its name to the National Government of Cambodia (NGC) in 1990. The 1976 constitution is no longer in effect. Four coordinating committees-defense, finance and economy, culture and education, and health and social affairs-act as ministries with representatives from each group. Each faction remains autonomous, administering civilian camps loyal to it and maintaining its own armed forces. The coalition has been organized to coordinate resistance efforts and support implementation of a peaceful solution to the Cambodian problem. It is not intended to be a government of an independent Cambodia, which will have to be chosen by the Khmer people after a settlement. The Heng Samrin regime is a Vietnamese-style "people's republic." Originally the "People's Republic of Kampuchea," it changed its name formally to the State of Cambodia in 1989. A single party, the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP), controls the regime, and its general-secretary, Heng Samrin, is also chairman of the Council of State. Particularly influential in the regime is Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hun Sen. Until late 1989, real power rested with Vietnam, which maintained advisors at every level of government who made or approved all major decisions. Although Vietnamese influence is now less visible, the regime remains closely linked to Hanoi. A national assembly was "elected" in 1981. All candidates were selected by the KPRP and reportedly approved by the Vietnamese. The regime has restored the pre-1975 system of provinces. A constitution was promulgated in 1981 and revised on April 30, 1989. While liberalized, the constitution retains a one- party state, which Prince Sihanouk considers unacceptable.


ASEAN has led international opposition to Vietnam's invasion and occupation of Cambodia. The 1981 UN-sponsored International Conference on Kampuchea brought together 83 countries as participants or observers. The conference declaration called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and the restoration of Cambodian independence and self-determination through internationally supervised elections. This formula for a settlement has been included in successive UN General Assembly resolutions since 1979, which were adopted by large majorities, including the United States, Japan, China, Western Europe, and the majority of nonaligned nations. In 1989, the ASEAN-sponsored resolution passed by an increased margin of 124 in favor, 17 against, and 12 abstaining. While insisting on the central elements of the ICK formula (complete withdrawal and self-determination) the ASEAN countries have been flexible in their approach to Cambodia. They have designed several initiatives which address the security concerns of all of Cambodia's neighbors. The 1983 ASEAN "Appeal on Kampuchea" suggested a phased withdrawal of Vietnamese troops, an international peacekeeping force, and reconstruction aid for areas evacuated by Vietnam. In March 1986, Prince Sihanouk expanded on this formula by announcing an eight-point peace proposal. His plan called for a two-phase withdrawal of Vietnamese forces, a ceasefire, internationally supervised free elections, UN observation, and international reconstruction efforts throughout Cambodia and Vietnam. From 1987 to 1989, a series of meetings between Prince Sihanouk and Phnom Penh leader Hun Sen were held to address settlement issues directly. ASEAN added momentum to the ongoing diplomatic efforts through its Jakarta Informal Meeting (JIM) process. These meetings, in July 1988 and February 1989, brought together the parties most directly involved in the Cambodian conflict-the four Cambodian parties, Vietnam, Laos, and the six ASEAN members. The JIM process helped to narrow differences on the wide range of issues involved in a comprehensive agreement. Eighteen governments, the four Cambodian parties, and a representative of the UN Secretary General, joined together in an international conference on Cambodia in Paris in August 1989 to begin detailed negotiations regarding a comprehensive settlement. The conference was suspended at the end of that month, largely over the issue of how the Cambodian groups would share power until elections were held. After the Paris conference, Secretary of State Baker suggested the five permanent members of the UN Security Council could play a useful role in formulating a solution that could be presented to the Cambodians. As a result, the five-China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States-met six times between January and August 1990 in Paris and New York to discuss how the United Nations could play an enhanced role in Cambodia as part of the settlement process. Agreement on expanded UN involvement, as proposed by, among others, Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans in November 1989, could help overcome differences among the Cambodian parties and lead to a resumption of the Paris conference later in 1990. Diplomatic efforts are continuing-on the regional level in Jakarta and internationally at the United Nations.


The Cambodian economy, badly damaged by the war and nearly destroyed under the Khmer Rouge, has only slowly begun to recover. Adverse weather conditions contributed to the exhaustion of food reserves in 1983. Further weather problems in 1984, as well as threats to Cambodian security, resulted in large subsistence shortfalls in 1985. GNP per capita in 1986 was among the lowest in the world. Production of rice, the staple crop, has recovered from the levels of 1979-80, but in 1986 Phnom Penh announced that the rice harvest would meet only 80% of the country's needs and appealed to the world for emergency assistance. The food situation has improved since that time, but there are still occasional shortages not only in rice, but also in meat, vegetables, dairy products, sugar, and flour. Extensive damage to the irrigation system, on which rice production depends, has only begun to be repaired. There has been limited recovery in the production of rubber, sugar, and other crops. Industry is also beginning to recover. Since 1987, increased emphasis has been placed on private sector economic activities, as well as on the family economy, with individual inheritance rights restored by constitutional reforms in 1989. In addition, since 1988, many of Cambodia's nationalized industries have been allowed to operate with limited autonomy from the state planning system. Following the example set by Vietnam and Laos, the Phnom Penh regime is in the process of preparing a foreign investment law aimed at attracting Western investors. While there has been some movement toward systemic reform-particularly in the areas of land-tenure rights for farmers and movement toward the beginnings of a free market economy- Cambodia's economic profile continues to be geared toward war priorities, with many markets dependent on goods smuggled in from Thailand and Singapore to augment depressed domestic output. Although hard statistical data is unavailable, trade with Vietnam and other countries since 1987 has expanded rapidly, specifically in the area of joint ventures. Cambodia's cities and towns remain underpopulated. Basic services, such as electricity and water, are erratic. The Heng Samrin regime has attempted to restore the educational system and has announced great success in its literacy and primary education campaigns. Health conditions remain poor. Since the end of the 1979-81 emergency period, Western aid to Cambodia has fallen off, with most governments refusing to offer development assistance to what they see as an unlawfully imposed regime in Phnom Penh. Limited aid from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe has been directed at basic infrastructure projects and has made little impact on the bulk of the population outside the towns. UN agencies such as UNICEF provide limited assistance, and a number of private organizations are also active in Cambodia.


Travel to areas of Cambodia under the control of the PRK requires the permission of that regime. The Department of State strongly advises against travel to Cambodia because of continuing military unrest. There is no US Mission in Phnom Penh.
Principal Government Officials
National Government of Cambodia: President: Prince Norodom Sihanouk Prime Minister/ Head of Government: Son Sann Vice President for Foreign Affairs: Khieu Samphan People's Republic of Kampuchea: Chairman, Council of State: Heng Samrin Chairman of the National Assembly: Chea Sim Chairman, Council of Ministers and Foreign Minister: Hun Sen
The Splendors of Angkor
Over a period of 300 years, between 900 and 1200 AD, the Khmer Kingdom of Angkor produced some of the world's most magnificent architectural masterpieces on the northern shore of the Tonle Sap, near the present town of Siem Reap. The Angkor area stretches 15 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south. Some 72 major temples or other buildings dot the area. The principal temple, Angkor Wat, was built between 1112 and 1150 by Suryavarman II. With walls nearly one-half mile on each side, Angkor Wat portrays the Hindu cosmology with the central towers representing Mount Meru, home of the gods; the outer walls, the mountains enclosing the world; and the moat, the oceans beyond. Angkor Thom, the capital city built after the Cham sack of 1177, is surrounded by a 300-foot wide moat. Construction of Angkor Thom coincided with a change from Hinduism to Buddhism. Temples were altered to display images of the Buddha, and Angkor Wat became a major Buddhist shrine. During the 15th century, nearly all of Angkor was abandoned after Siamese attacks, except Angkor Wat, which remained a shrine for Buddhist pilgrims. The great city and temples remained largely cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century when French archaeologists began a long restoration process. France established the Angkor Conservancy in 1908 to direct restoration of the Angkor complex. For the next 64 years, the conservancy worked to clear away the forest, repair foundations, and install drains to protect the buildings from the most insidious enemy: water. After 1953, the conservancy became a joint project of the French and Cambodian Governments. Some temples were carefully taken apart stone by stone and reassembled on concrete foundations. Nearly 70,000 tourists visited Angkor in 1970, but the spreading war forced abandonment of the conservancy in 1972. Angkor has suffered some damage since that time, and the forest has reclaimed parts of the complex. Since 1975, few visitors have been able to tour Angkor, although the Heng Samrin regime made some effort to preserve the buildings from the forest and has begun promoting tourism to the area.


Since 1975, thousands of Cambodians have fled first the terror of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and then the attack and occupation of their country by Vietnamese military forces. More than 200,000 were admitted to Thailand as refugees before the border was closed in 1980. International assistance efforts for this group have centered on relief and resettlement. More than 140,000 refugees have been resettled in the US. From 1980 to 1985, Cambodians who arrived along the Thai- Cambodian border lived in a series of camps on both sides of the border. By 1985, border attacks had forced 225,000 of these people into Thailand. A limited resettlement program to facilitate family reunification for border hmer with close family in the United States has been underway since 1985 for this group. More recently, Vietnamese and PRK efforts to seal the border have restricted the number of new arrivals. The Royal Thai Government, the UN Border Relief Operation (UNBRO), the International Committee of the Red Cross, and private voluntary agencies provide basic food, shelter, and medical care to the more than 300,000 who remain in camps. UNBRO coordinates the relief efforts and plans to spend more than $58 million on relief efforts in 1990. In FY 1990, US contributions in cash and commodities to UNBRO's relief efforts amounted to the equivalent of $10.6 million.


The United States recognized Cambodia on February 7, 1950, and between 1955 and 1963 provided $409.6 million in economic grant aid and $83.7 million in military assistance. This aid was used primarily to repair damage caused by the first Indochina war, to support internal security forces, and for the construction of an all-weather road to the seaport of Sihanoukville (now Kompong Som), which gave Cambodia its first direct access to the sea and access to the southwestern hinterlands. Relations deteriorated in the early 1960s. The US Agency for International Development mission was ordered out of the country in 1963, and a government-inspired mob sacked the US Embassy in 1964. Diplomatic relations were broken by Cambodia in May 1965 but were reestablished on July 2, 1969. US relations continued after the establishment of the Khmer Republic until the US mission was evacuated on April 12, 1975. During the 1970-75 war, the United States provided $1.18 billion in military assistance and $503 million in economic assistance. The United States has not recognized a government in Cambodia since 1975 and condemned the brutal character of the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979. At the same time, the United States opposed the military occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam and supports ASEAN's efforts to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the problem. Since 1985, the United States has given both political and economic support to the non-communist groups led by Prince Sihanouk and Son Sann. In 1989, Congress appropriated $5.5 million for non-lethal assistance to the non- communist forces. After Vietnam's 1979 invasion of Cambodia, the United States worked with interested parties-specifically the ASEAN countries- in pursuit of three key objectives: verified withdrawal of Vietnamese occupation forces from Cambodia, genuine self- determination for the Cambodian people, and the prevention of a return to power of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. While Prince Sihanouk and ASEAN have said that Khmer Rouge elements should participate in the transitional political process until elections are held, the United States remains unalterably opposed to any Khmer Rouge return to power and views a comprehensive political settlement as the most effective way of assuring that the Khmer Rouge will be contained. Published by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Public Communication, Washington, DC , November 1990. Series Editor: Peter Knecht. Department of State Publication 7747. Background Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. (###)