I am younger Cambodian has never seen that culture is more important than to have the politicians who have political will for their nation. Current Cambodian leaders are planning to self-destruction because they are proud of Khmer culture and rocky-temples, but they have never concerned to project their long-sighted and strong-structured government leadership. Cambodian leaders have neglected to strengthen the rule of laws and support a real democratic system. On the other hand, incumbent Cambodian leaders don't know the enemy emerging from inside, especially the Vietnamese population that has been grown up rapidly in these decades.
Comparing Cambodia-Vietnam with Vietnam-China is exasperatingly diverting the real issue here. China has short shared-border line than Cambodia with Vietnam. Historically, China expelled Vietnamese tribe (or Kinh ethnic) to escape Southward. In that moment, Vietnamese ancestors had successfully expanded their land southward (like the name Vietnam or Viet and Nam itself literally translated its meaning as Southward Marching/Expanding). This Southward expanding finally could swallow Champa, Prey Norkor and Khmer Krom. And all Vietnamese leaders are expecting to annex Lao and Cambodia, the ideal Indochina once created by the French. Vietnam's ambition is not only there. Uncle Ho planned to expand communist ideology as well as expand his Real Estate Business throughout the South East Asia. Uncle Ho is a special member of world communist movement, and his operational location is in South East Asia. So I don't see that you have hate towards China. You should pay gratitude to China that you have today.
From this brief history, you can see China has used propaganda and intimidation towards Vietnam rather than taking real action like Vietnam sent hundred thousands of troops to post in Cambodia for almost 10 years. China operated a so-called instruction war with Vietnam during Vietnam invaded Cambodia. It was just a pre-emptive war, not a containing war. But Vietnam's presence in Cambodia was intended to contain or plant its strong roots inside Cambodia land. At least, Vietnam planned to contain and maintain its status quo through two things:
- Populating the Vietnamese people inside Cambodia land through population strategy that Vietnam used to take over Champa, Prey Norkor and Khmer Krom: planting the people, encroaching new plot to create village, and lay down the village administration. Cambodia has undeniably been full of Vietnamese residents and Vietnamese imposter policemen in major areas in Cambodia.
- Creating Vietnam's shadow government (or general public called puppet government) that means the leaders are Cambodians but structures and powerful advisers are Vietnamese. Cambodia has no empirical study focusing on this matter, but many Cambodian elites and figures have favorite tendency towards Vietnam more than Cambodian people (in case of current opposition political party has been bullied/arrested/insulted while those elites/figures pay respect and value Vietnamese in all events).
These two legacies of Vietnam has tremendously embedded in Cambodian society and it is literally named "hegemony" or "domination". Hegemonic behavior means trying to influence and pressure others through either military, political structure, kleptocracy or other patrimonial strategic plans. In dictionary, hegemony means the position of being the strongest and most powerful and therefore able to control others. Vietnam has projected to play this role in Cambodia. Like in Lao, Vietnam agreed to have border markers installation but Vietnam knows well that Cambodia cannot control their people who entered and lived in Cambodia efficiently. This strategy of using people to expand territorial land is very smart and genius.
You mentioned about maintaining culture, rituals, tradition or ancient monuments is the good thing for Cambodia to keep its identity and nation. Your word is not true and sometime it is very manipulative. While you are anti ultranationalism but you advocate to see Cambodia has culture survival. Of course, cultural politics had been used in the past and the people became obsessive nationalism. Thus, colonialism can still control them all. For instance, like you are living in the US, you can see Indian population, or the Natives in Canada can preserve whatever identity they want, but what has been happening to them nowadays?
I am younger Cambodian has never seen that culture is more important than to have the politicians who have political will for their nation. Current Cambodian leaders are planning to self-destruction because they are proud of Khmer culture and rocky-temples, but they have never concerned to project their long-sighted and strong-structured government leadership. Cambodian leaders have been neglected to strengthen the rule of laws and support a real democratic system. On the other hand, incumbent Cambodian leaders don't know the enemy emerging from inside, especially, the Vietnamese population that has been grown up rapidly in these decades.
America has powerful influence over Canada, but Canada government is very strong and they has projected their country to govern by the rule of laws. Canada welcomes immigrants from everywhere but those immigrants have to follow the immigration laws of Canada. What other examples that you need to know? Cambodia is not in situation like Canada.
I do agree with you that controversy is good for now for Cambodian government to strictly implement its rule of laws and particularly, the immigration laws before it is too late!
I think I "used to have" the same thinking like you toward China, or many young generations in Cambodia (whatever many called brainwashed by hatred of Viet land grab, or hegemony etc), but an open minded person would need to take others' account too.
"For Cambodia, if we don't have the UN and international communities, we don't have present Cambodia.", I think you missed the other half of the sentence, something which you did acknowledge before, that you wouldn't have present Cambodia, or even yourself writing here and there, without the Viet's help. Of course neither the Viet or China presence was good (I hate communism too, as it is no good anywhere as we have seen the failure of Soviet, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, China etc all the poorest countries in the world). But it is what it is, whether you like it or not. But, I am INSULTED too that many young generations in Cambodia forgot the price the Viet paid to help secure the country from genocide, now to attack Viet presence IGNORING the whole history. Same situation as many Viet guys now turn against China. During the hard time we were friends, but peace time many conflicts arise which will never be solved like land issues. BUT, live with it whether we like it or not (mean status quo).
You would go too far if you try to compare any Asian style with Japan, Germany or any Western countries. I guess you may be studying in some of those countries, so do I living in US for long. It helps changes my view of China and how the current world issues (look at the war in Iraq, Georgia) may have an implication for small countries in relation with bigger, more powerful and sometime not very benign neighbours. Of course I wish US was still staying in Vietnam, so their institution would transform Vietnam to country like Japan. But it wasn't the case.
The very contentious issue you mention again and again here than there, Vietnam dominance and hegemony, I would want to know how you "define" such a term? of course I would imagine Vietnam-Cambodia as China-Vietnam, which one "dominates" another. Surely you are unhappy with it, as well as many in Cambodia. But I just want to remind you that keeping national tradition, rituals, culture, politics from being affected have to do more with how you deal with such influence and integration of one in another, not trying to EXPULSE what you don't like. What I have seen is just the influence, rather than exaggerated, "hegemony", which the later is more specific about using military might and pressure to corner others. Viet isn't in a position to do that. Dominance is correct. But that happens in every countries everywhere. Vietnam is heavily under influence of China, same for Canada under US, or Cambodia under Vietnam. There is nothing "wrong" with it, except if you are afraid of culture loss. What can you do about it?
By the way, the main issue to how Cambodia can make good of itself, rather than blame here and there for their situation. Same as the Viet, I wish our country could do like the Chinese did with a strong government. It has to come with the people better education, economic development and awareness of the rules of law, yet it won't happen very soon. We all have a corrupt government, but it is changing, as it is more open nowadays than in the past.
My last words, most importantly, from a very open minded person, is that sometime it is better to live with controversial issues, in order to achieve economic development, which both improve people lives and at the same time strengthen national images, than trying to shoot it down first then whatever later. Politics are dirty and corrupt everywhere. So we sometime have to put the ultranationalism view aside, as it only obstructs our steps forward. The one who well behaves will be the one who survives and develops as in Darwin theory. The Viet had lost the whole past century and millions of lives to learn from its mistakes.