Hun Sen's Mistake? The Domestic Political Ramifications of His Chinese Shelter


Charles Dunst

Asia Pacific Issues, No. 148


Honolulu:East-West Center

Publication Date: April 30, 2021
Binding: paper
Pages: 8
Free Download: PDF


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s close relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has led scholars and policymakers alike to suggest that Beijing’s backing will keep him in power. While Hun Sen himself seems to believe this to be true, his reliance on China is actually enflaming Cambodian discontent to such an extent that his planned patrimonial succession is at risk. Given the fragility of regimes mid-succession, Hun Sen’s Chinese shelter is augmenting the potential of his clan’s fall. Yet as Hun Sen faces increased domestic opposition, he will only further deepen ties with China in hopes of remaining in power, thereby creating a vicious cycle from which escaping will prove difficult. (Photo by Madoka Ikegami - Pool/Getty Images)