AIR spotlight summary on “Bilateral Relations Between India and Cambodia”.
- The meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen saw Cambodia invite Indian investment in information technology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and horticulture, infrastructure and small and medium enterprises. The leaders of India and Cambodia agreed to work toward a bilateral investment treaty that could see tens of millions of dollars pour into the Southeast Asian nation. Indians always had close feelings for the people of Cambodia. The visit by a Cambodian Prime Minister to India is taking place after 10 years.
- India- Cambodia relations go back to the 1st century AD when Hindu and Buddhist religious and cultural influences emanated out of India to various parts of Southeast Asia.
- Cambodia is a representative of Indian cultural outreach to the Asian region because the biggest Hindu temples like Angkor Watis in Cambodia which has recognition of UNESCO world heritage site. India is involved in the restoration and preservation of Angkor Wat which is an honour for India. It is part of the joint cultural heritage of Cambodia and India.
- The cultural ties with Cambodia and other ASEAN nations is a factor of India’s soft power. This can be strengthened to further India’s foreign policy goal. From cultural diplomacy we need to move towards people to people contact, commercial ties, scientific, digital, and defence cooperation.
- India agreed to provide lines of credit, including nearly $37 million to finance a Cambodian water project. India also offered lines of credit for setting up specialty hospitals, expanding road, rail and digital connectivity and construction of a high-powered electric line.
- India and Cambodia also signed a MoU on the prevention of human trafficking under which the two countries will seek to increase bilateral cooperation on the issues of prevention, rescue and repatriation related to human trafficking.
China’s Influence in the Region
- India is seeking to deepen bonds with Southeast Asia amid wariness over China’s growing influence in the region. The Chinese have tried their best to continue their interest in the Indo-China region especially with Cambodia and Vietnam. But these countries do not want their hard won freedom to be bargained for the money from china. Not all ASENA nations are on the same line when dealing with China.
- Indian Ocean has so far been an ocean of peace, whereas in Pacific Ocean and South China Sea (SCS) we see lot of conflicts. We see China’s building activities for bases and unilateral control over SCS islands despite decisions taken by UNCLOS.
India’s Outreach to the ASEAN Nations
- Today India’s outreach to the ASEAN nations and India’s foreign policy towards ASEAN has a strong focus. The Prime Minster Narendra Modi met the leaders of 10 ASEAN nations and discussed several issues and the one issue that stood out was maritime cooperation. This is important at time when China has taken an aggressive stand in the South China Sea.
- India announced 1,000 scholarships at IITs for PhD students from ASEAN countries; India has offered cooperation in Space, Cyber Security, anti-terrorist etc. Delhi Declaration of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit has come out strongly against terrorism with united voice between India and ASEAN nations in tackling terrorism.
- The ASEAN countries have seen the Indian capability in the Republic day parade and perhaps import the defence equipments manufactured in India.
- Normally we had only one leader present as the chief guest for the Republic Day, but now with 10 leaders of ASEAN nations as guests for Republic Day shows that India has developed the capability and vision that we need to work with countries which have common interest.