China for its support for the Khmer Rouge. U.S. charges that Cambodia has put a rent
in ASEAN unity related to China’s ‘pivot’ from supporter of the Khmer Rouge up to
1991 to supporter of the Hun Sen regime.
In 1967 ultra-leftists Maoists Khmer took to the jungle and attempted to launch aviolent revolution to overthrow the Kingdom of Cambodia headed by PrinceNorodom Sihanouk. Sihanouk was deposed in an internal coup in March 1970 bymilitary forces w
ho opposed Sihanouk’s
policy of granting the CommunistVietnamese establish sanctuaries in eastern Cambodia from which to attackVietnam. Sihanouk also permitted Chinese military support to be off loaded at the
port of Sihanoukville and transported overland to these sanctuaries. Ding Gang’s
remarks about the U.S. support for the Lon Nol regime should be placed in historic
context. During the Cold War both China and the U.S. took sides in Cambodia’s
internal affairs and bear responsibility for their policies. China has a huge deficitconsidering that the Khmer Rouge regime presided over the deaths of 2-3 millionpersons.
Ding Gang’s comments if acted upon by the current Chinese Government would
shed light on the amount of assistance China provided the Khmer Rouge since 1970.U.S. assistance to Vietnam and Laos to clear up the legacy of war
land mines andother unexploded ordnance
also predated the Obama Administration’s pivot to
Asia. There is no question the U.S. has a moral responsibility to assist in clearing upthis legacy of war. But it must be understood that both Vietnam and Laos wereuncooperative with the U.S. in assisting with the return of prisoners of war (POW)and information on missing in action (MIA). Progress on these two issues
contributing to healing the wounds of war and an accounting for POWs/MIAs
werelinked in the Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring the Peace in Vietnam(1973).
The question of Agent Orange, and dioxin in particular, is not as straight forward asDing Gang present it. When Agent Orange was used its full effects were not known.Many U.S. and allied servicemen, such as Australians, were exposed and fell ill. Therewere also complicated legal arguments over culpability. No U.S. court ruled in favourof Vietnamese plaintiffs.
The U.S. Congress made funds available to begin to assist in cleaning up the effects
of Agent Orange long before the Obama Administration’s pivot to Asia. There has
been a marked step up in U.S. efforts in recent years in response to demands by theVietnamese side. U.S. assistance to Vietnam in this respect is unrelated with DingGa
ng’s sophistry that it forms part of the U.S. ‘back to Asia’ strategy.
Q2. Would it benefit China at all to take the same approach as the U.S. - which oncefunded the KR - and is now helping to fund the tribunal?
ANSWER: The United States as a matter of policy never supported the Khmer Rougedirectly with any form of material, military, or political assistance. It was U.S. policyto back the non-communist resistance
the Sihanoukists, and the Khmer People’s
National Liberation Front
who were partners with the Khmer Rouge in theCoalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea formed in 1982.