mandag 6. mai 2024

In Retrospect: The Chinese Communist Party’s Relationship with the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s

The Chinese Communist Party’s relationship with the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s has long been shrouded in mystery. The two most recent studies on this subject, one by Andrew Mertha and the other by John D. Ciorciari, both argue that the CCP was unable to influence the Khmer Rouge, despite providing massive assistance to its protégé. In this bilateral relationship, China “ended up as the subordinate party,” while the Khmer Rouge was able to “exercise considerable autonomy.”

Mertha notes that China “justifiably received international condemnation for maintaining the viability of the CPK [Khmer Communist Party, or the Khmer Rouge]) regime while receiving precious little tangible benefit from its Cambodian allies.” He further raises the question, “exactly what did Chinese development aid buy?” This question, however, is left unanswered in his book Brothers in Arms. 

So why did the CCP provide massive amounts of aid to the Khmer Rouge since 1970, in particular after the CPK’s victory in 1975?