"Researching Sino-Cambodian Relations: Some Personal Reflections"

Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch
Zhang Chunqiao with Prince Norodom Sihanouk and Ieng Sary, Beijing. Source: private collection of Ambassador Julio A Jeldres.
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Abstract

I have been asked to share some reflections on the challenge of researching Sino-Cambodian relations in China, particularly with regard to the era before the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). The bulk of the research for my dissertation and book, China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, drew on both interviews and archival sources. I will first discuss here the eighty-plus interviews conducted for this project. My initial goal was not just to find out why Chinese policy makers had pursued the choices they made; it was also to ascertain why they had not chosen other options that, in some senses, might have been more expedient or efficient...