Amidst the celebratory fireworks and backyard barbecues, the Fourth of July is an opportunity for Americans to reflect on the value of independence and a democratic system of government. On this date in 1776, our Founding Fathers changed history by establishing a new nation, born from a belief in liberty and dedicated to the proposition “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. These principles have guided the United States through our history, sustained us during difficult times, and become a beacon of hope for people around the world.
That beacon continues to shine brightly in Cambodia, where the United States has been an unwavering supporter of the Cambodian people’s aspirations for a better future. We have long partnered with the Royal Government on a host of development programs, helping Cambodians become healthier, better educated, more productive, and more responsible members of society. We have also worked closely with civil society partners to support their admirable efforts to care for the needs and protect the rights of the Cambodian people. Moreover, the generous contributions of private American citizens and organisations illustrate the wonderful friendship and the ever-growing bond between our two nations.
The United States can continue to play an important role in helping Cambodia reach its potential, particularly through enhanced bilateral commercial ties. To encourage the type of bilateral trade and investment that will spur job creation and facilitate growth in both Cambodia and the United States, I recently completed my second reverse trade mission to the United States with Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol and some of Cambodia’s leading businesses.
Visiting three US cities, the delegation networked with prominent and innovative American companies like Microsoft and General Electric, while explaining how ongoing reforms in Cambodia were transforming the business landscape. The trade mission was an important opportunity to improve the country’s image and encourage American companies and investors to consider commercial opportunities in Cambodia. I thank the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia and the local American business community for supporting this important trade mission. They also deserve credit for all of their contributions toward developing the business environment in Cambodia.
Just as the United States is committed to helping Cambodia’s economy grow, we are also committed to helping Cambodia’s democracy grow. By working alongside Cambodians and supporting civil society, we are supporting increased transparency in the electoral process, greater respect for human rights, peaceful debate and dialogue, and adherence to the rule of law. These efforts remain the most important work of the US government in Cambodia. We do these things not out of obligation, nor for commercial advantage, but simply because it is the right thing to do. We will continue to stand by the Cambodian people as they confront the challenges inherent in strengthening their democracy.
As we look back at the history of the United States, we must remember that our road to democracy was neither smooth nor easy. But by adhering to the ideals and values enshrined in the US Constitution, and through the hard work, determination, and courage of countless Americans, the United States has overcome significant challenges. Our country has shown the world that it is indeed possible to establish and maintain strong democratic institutions, elect and hold leaders accountable, and foster freedom and opportunity for all.
On the Fourth of July, as we reflect on the importance of protecting the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for our citizens, we are reminded that the Cambodian people continue to strive toward greater democracy in their own country. That is why I remain confident and optimistic in Cambodia’s ability to overcome the challenges it faces. The United States will remain a steadfast partner in helping Cambodia to become an enduring democracy and achieve broad-based, equitable economic growth that benefits all Cambodians.