The U.S. has protested the arrest of political activist Theary Seng and others arrested for protests against Hun Sen's government. Yet penalizing Cambodia could come at a high cost for the U.S., according to Ford School professor and Weiser Diplomacy Center and International Policy Center director John Ciorciari.
“Tougher U.S. measures…risk playing into Hun Sen’s efforts to pin the country’s economic and social problems on the West. Further U.S. pressure also may add cement to Cambodia’s already close ties to Beijing,” he told VOA.
“At times the gap between legislative and executive approaches is helpful, allowing diplomats to play the good cop while Congress threatens tougher measures,” Ciorciari said. “However, Congress sometimes ties the administration’s hands too tightly, eliminating space for diplomatic maneuver. That is a real risk at the moment.”