On December 11-12, 2023, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Manet will pay an official visit to Vietnam for the first time since he assumed the top office. The historical background of Vietnam and Cambodia establishes the basis for the shared cultural heritage and history, which have shaped the relationship of the two nations over time.

These two Southeast Asian countries have had centuries of complicated exchanges, alliances and battles that have molded their current relationship.

Due to the close proximity, Cambodia and Vietnam’s cultures, customs and traditions have been deeply entwined. The Mekong River, which passes through both nations, has long been an essential conduit for communication and food, promoting cross-cultural trade.

The formation of common identities and mutual understanding between the peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia has been greatly influenced by this physical proximity.

Through people-to-people contacts, educational partnerships and cultural exchanges, the linkages between Vietnam and Cambodia are still strong. These exchanges work as a link, strengthening the ties and promoting understanding between the two neighbours.

Understanding the need of preserving strong diplomatic connections between the two nations, Prime Minister Hun Manet has been instrumental in fortifying the bilateral relations. Manet has made tremendous progress in strengthening bilateral ties, accelerating economic growth, and advancing regional stability with his innovative leadership and dedication to fostering cooperation.

Under Manet’s leadership, there have been initiatives to enhance trade volume and lower investment obstacles, which has led to a rise in business activity and expanded prospects for business owners in Cambodia. 

Vietnam and Cambodia have both recently had tremendous economic growth, and because of their proximity, both countries are ideal trading partners. In order to encourage trade, investment and economic cooperation, they have developed a number of bilateral agreements and initiatives.

The agriculture sector is one of the major sectors of economic cooperation. Vietnam and Cambodia have been working together to transfer technology, share information and exchange agricultural products. Together with improving food security and reducing poverty in rural regions, this relationship has helped both countries’ agriculture sectors flourish.

We cannot exaggerate the geopolitical significance of the relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia. These two neighbours have strong cultural and historical ties as well as a lengthy and complicated shared past. Strategically speaking, it is critical for both countries and the larger area to keep positive relations between Cambodia and Vietnam.

First off, Cambodia and Vietnam are significant trading partners. Over the years, they have developed close commercial and investment relations, with Vietnam ranking among Cambodia’s principal trading partners. Both the growth and development of both countries as well as the advancement of regional economic integration have been facilitated by their close economic cooperation.

Furthermore, good relations between Vietnam and Cambodia are crucial to the stability and security of the region. It is critical for the two nations to continue to present a united front as Southeast Asian countries deal with a variety of issues, including territorial disputes, transnational crimes and regional crises. They may successfully solve these problems and advance regional peace and stability through their cooperation.

Although there have always been positive ties between Cambodia and Vietnam, it is important to recognise that these relationships presently face difficulties. If these issues are not resolved, both countries’ potential growth and advancement may be hampered.

The problem of territorial disputes is one of the major obstacles to ties between Cambodia and Vietnam. There have been disputes and hostilities regarding border regions, especially in the Mekong Delta area. There have occasionally been diplomatic difficulties and strained relations between the two countries as a result of these conflicts. To achieve peaceful solutions and preserve regional stability, both nations must have frank and constructive discussions.

For both nations to benefit from one another, maintaining positive relations is crucial. It is admirable that Manet is cognizant of the need of a robust and cooperative partnership between the two countries.

With an emphasis on the value of respect, trust and cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia, Manet has demonstrated his commitment to strengthening ties between the two countries. He is in a good position to handle the opportunities and difficulties that lie ahead because of his diplomatic efforts and grasp of the geopolitical environment.

Both Cambodia and Vietnam stand to gain from greater trade volumes, investments and tourism by maintaining strong relations, all of which will help the general development and prosperity of their respective nations. Strong bilateral ties can also act as a spur for cooperation, peace and stability in the region.

In conclusion, there is a great deal of promise for the future of relations between Cambodia and Vietnam under Prime Minister Manet. Both nations can pave the way for mutual prosperity and make a significant contribution to the progress of Southeast Asia as a whole by cultivating a relationship built on mutual understanding, trust and cooperation.

For the benefit of their citizens and the area at large, both countries must continue to place a high priority on and make investments in preserving their positive relations. The visit of Manet to Vietnam will show that Cambodia maintains good relations not only with China but also with all ASEAN countries, esspecially its neighbours. 

Seun Sam is a policy analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

The views expressed in this article are solely his own.