Cambodia is an increasingly notable exporter of soft goods to the West, and in fact an early (premature, really) member of the World Trade Organization. It’s a reasonably open society these days, with of course one of the world’s great tourism sites at Angkor Wat. Sporting barely 15 million people, it punches economically above its weight.
All that said, Cambodia receives spotty attention in business media, Forbes included. We did manage some good coverage last year from then-contributor Megha Bahree,focused on labor strife in the garment sector as well as Chinese influence in the country, about which a lot more could be written.
So I was heartened to read this narrative of Cambodian political tussles in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs by Stephanie Giry, an opinions editor for the International New York Times out of Hong Kong.  She’s been following Cambodia’s story for a few years now in other writings.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) signs his attendance for the National Assembly meeting in Phnom Penh on April 9, 2015. Cambodia’s parliament on April 9 appointed a new election body, backed by the ruling party of the strongman and his opposition, ostensibly to ensure free and fair elections in the future. ( TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
What doesn’t change much over time, as her piece illuminates, is the control exerted by the country’s wily ruler, Hun Sen.  By using various levers, including force, he has managed to hold power for 30 years.  Initially a Vietnamese plant in the wake of its rout of the horrible Khmer Rouge, he has overseen the rise of state-blessed crony capitalism at home while maintaining stable if sometimes fractious relations with Vietnam and other neighbors. After the throes that preceded him, any stability might seem a blessing, though as Giry’s article (as well as ours) makes clear, many Cambodians have come to dispute that.  Nonetheless, Hun Sen maneuvers, co-opts, intimidates–whatever it takes to endure.  And he is only 63, so his reign has no end in sight.