It's just the same song with different melodies. The change of world politics from barbarianism, to colonialism and to contemporary neo-liberal globalism lie on the same latitude: the strong exploit the weak. The change is just moving from explicit exploitation to implicit exploitation.
Civil society has become institutionalised; many rich countries have created their aid agencies to support other poorer countries.
Some aid has strings attached, some does not; but both are for the benefits of the donors primarily.
Aid is good for Cambodia. It is also good for donors because they can earn respect and business profits.
Japan's aid to build bridges or pave roads is good for Cambodian people to commute easily, and it is also good for Japanese automobile companies to increase their sales of vehicles.
China has become the number one aid provider to Cambodia, and they have no strings attached, but China can win most major concessions to invest in Cambodia. And empirically, many Chinese companies have brought in their own labour force, possibly to take that money back to their country.
In the international political arena, the measure of a nation's decision-making is that they will maximise their benefit first. For instance, the UN has proposed Cambodia and Thailand settle their border dispute by themselves.
It is clearly understandable that the US, who predominantly influences the UN, doesn't want to lose its benefits with Thailand. Of course, finding a bilateral solution with Thailand is not good for Cambodia.
If Cambodia expects to solve the problem with Thailand through bilateral efforts, it may only manage to prevent the Thai military from increasing its border trespass - the locations they have trespassed on already may be maintained.
Cambodia should learn to be long-sighted and review all possible impacts of globalisation.
University of Hawaii