1954-1970 1975-1979

History of Cambodia, 1970-1975

Administration . Just before, on March 18th 1970, General Lon Nol had staged a coup d'etat ousting Prince Norodom Sihanouk who went to the PR China into exile. On October 9th 1970 the monarchy was declared abolished, and a centralized Republic declared. Preparations for the negotiation of a new constitution werre aborted in 1972.

Foreign Policy; the War . The Lon Nol administration refused ships from the PR China and other Communist nations to use the port of Sihanoukville for weapons supplies to the Viet Cong. North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces were ordered to leave Cambodia. Cambodia resumed diplomatic relations with the U.S.
The Lon Nol administration was in control of only part of Cambodia; the areas adjacent to the Vietnamese border remained under North Vietnamese/Viet Cong control, and were to funtion as operation bases for the Khmer Rouge.
On Feb. 23rd 1970 US President Nixon officially approved the bombing of Cambodia (which secretly had been going on since 1965, and had been intensified in 1969); on April 30th 1970 he announced that US troops were sent into Cambodia.
In Beijing exile, Prince Sihanouk allied himself with the Khmer Rouge (FUNK), which allowed the PR China to throw her support behind the latter.
From 1970 to 1973, Cambodia was a side theatre of the Vietnam War. While the U.S. aerial bombardment affected the country greatly, regular Cambodian and U.S. troops were unable to maintain control of much of the country, the "liberated areas" growing in size. In 1973 the US troops left; only in 1975 the Khmer Rouge entered Pnom Penh and took over the country.

Social History . Cambodia's population in 1970 was estimated at 7 million.
Prior to the coup, the Cambodian state supported the Viet Cong. The victory of the conservatives within Sangkum in 1967 and the Lon Nol coup of 1970 polarized the Cambodian populace. Lon Nol's call for volunteers for the Cambodian Army resulted in the army swelling from 30,000 to 70,000; the guerilla also quickly expanded her force, what used to be a low scale insurgency escalated into a full scale civil war.
As the government now pursued an anti-Vietnamese policy, Cambodia's ethnic Vietnamese minority of 400,000 was exposed to mob violence, and a number of Cambodian Vietnamese were massacred.

The Economy . Cambodia's rice production decreased from a bumper harvest of 3.8 million metric tons in 1970 to 0.6 million metric tons in 1974 (IHS p.196).

Cultural History . Cambodia did sent a team of athletes to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

Timeline of Cambodian History, from timelines.ws; from BBC News
Cambodia 1955-1973. Prince Sihanouk walks the high-wire of neutralism, from William Blum, Killing Hope, posted by Third World Traveller
Article Norodom Sihanouk, Lon Nol, Cambodian Civil War, Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, Khmer Serei, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Cambodia at the 1972 Summer Olympics, from Wikipedia
US-Cambodia 1955-1993, from Cooperative Research
Bombing Cambodia, by Noam Chomsky
Cambodia's Economic Development and History, by Sophal Ear (diss. 1995)
Cambodia 1954-1999, from ACIG, on airforce
Cambodia, Chronicles of a Genocide, by Sergio Palumbo
The Precarious Relationship : People's Republic of China and Cambodia, its Implication for American Policy, by Gary H. Jefferson
Agent Orange's Legacy, from Cambodia Daily, 2004
U.S. Involvement in the Cambodian War and Genocide, from Cambodian Genocide Project
DOCUMENTS Cambodia Statesmen, from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon)
Cambodia, from Population Statistics at Univ. Utrecht
Photo : Royal Palaca 1957, by D'Lynn Waldron
1958 map of envisioned city of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, posted by Canby Publications
Time Magazine Cover : Prince Sihanouk, 1964
REFERENCES IHS : International Historical Statistics : Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-2000, edited by B.R. Mitchell, Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan 4th ed. 2003
Article : Cambodia, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1971 pp.176-177, 1972 pp.161-163, 1973 pp.158-160, 1974 pp.167-168, 1975 pp.150-152, 1976 pp.178-179 [G]
Article : Cambodia, in : Americana Annual 1971 pp.170-172, 1972 p.173 [G]
Article : Cambodia (Khmer Republic), in : Americana Annual 1973 pp.166-167 [G]
Article : Cambodia, in : Americana Annual 1974 p.151, 1976 pp.103, 149-150 [G]
Article : Cambodia, in : The Statesman's Year-Book 1970-1971 pp.793-796 [G]
Article : Khmer Republic, in : The Statesman's Year-Book 1975-1976 pp.1099-1105 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 18th 2002, last revised on May 29th 2007

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