Cambodia: Representation, Refugees and Rebels

  • Lee Jones
Part of the Critical Studies of the Asia Pacific Series book series (CSAP)


While ASEAN scholars have largely ignored the invasion of East Timor, they have lavished attention on ASEAN’s response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978. Indeed, it is principally through confronting Hanoi that ASEAN earned its reputation for fierce adherence to the principle of non-interference. The unchallenged consensus in the literature is that ASEAN reacted to the invasion because it was ‘an evident breach of the ASEAN principle… of non-interference in the internal affairs of member-states as the sovereignty-reinforcing, unilateral-action-denying sine qua non of regional order’ (D. M. Jones, 2009, p. 278). Despite the fact that neither Vietnam nor Cambodia were ASEAN members, ASEAN supposedly saw ‘Vietnam’s actions as a blatant violation of its norms’, particularly ASEAN’s doctrine of non-interference and non-use of force’ (Acharya, 2009a, p. 99). ASEAN felt especially ‘embarrassed’ or ‘betrayed’ by the violation of its ‘cardinal principle’ given Vietnam’s earlier assurances that it had no ambitions beyond its borders (Antolik, 1990, p. 116; Alagappa, 1993; Haacke, 2003, pp. 81, 83, 96; Caballero-Anthony, 2005, pp. 84, 86, 215–16, 259). ASEAN states are depicted as diplomatic gatekeeper[s]’ concerned with ‘the sanctity of national sovereignty… [their] most sacred corporate value’ (Leifer, 1989, pp. 126, 14), whose strategic differences were set aside ‘to defend [ASEAN’s] primary principles’ (Narine, 2005, p. 476).


ASEAN State Khmer Rouge Cambodian Refugee Fait Accompli Negotiate Solution 
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Copyright information

© Lee Jones 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary, University of LondonUK

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