Khmer Rouge May Lose Chinese Aid, Solarz Says
The Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia in a 1970s reign of terror and now form a guerrilla opposition, will face a cutoff of Chinese aid once a peace plan is enacted in that nation, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) said here Thursday.
Solarz, chairman of the House subcommittee on Asian and Pacific affairs, said the pledge by China boosts his confidence that a political settlement between warring factions in Cambodia can block the Khmer Rouge from returning to power.
“The Chinese officials with whom I discussed this . . . are quite confident that a settlement is near,” Solarz said at a news conference. “They assured me that in the context of a settlement, they would terminate their assistance to the Khmer Rouge. I consider this an extraordinarily significant development.”
While China has promised before to cut off military aid to the Khmer Rouge once there is a political settlement of the Cambodian conflict, Solarz said that in his talks here this week, Chinese officials pledged clearly for the first time that non-military aid would end.
China has been the key supporter of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas since they were ousted from power by a Vietnamese invasion in late 1978. During their 1975-1978 rule, under the leadership of the infamous Pol Pot, an estimated 1 million Cambodians died of starvation, disease and political killings. Their military forces, still reputedly controlled by Pol Pot, remain by far the strongest among the three guerrilla factions that tried for more than a decade to overthrow the Vietnamese-installed Phnom Penh government.
“As someone who has been deeply moved and affected by the tragic fate which befell Cambodia during the years when the Khmer Rouge were in power, I believe that there is no greater moral imperative confronting the international community today than finding ways to prevent Pol Pot and his murderous minions from battling their way back to power in Phnom Penh,” Solarz said.
In recent months, the four armed Cambodian factions, including the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese-installed Phnom Penh government, have made major progress toward a peace agreement. Under a proposed peace plan, a provisional body representing all factions would assume authority in Cambodia pending results of U.N.-supervised elections. Solarz said he was told that any Chinese aid to Cambodia after a peace settlement would go to the central authorities.
Solarz also said that the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union seems likely to provoke a further tightening of political controls in China, meaning that tensions in the U.S.-China relationship are unlikely to ease soon. If China wants a fundamental improvement in its ties with the United States, it must release jailed dissidents and take other measures to ease political repression, he said.
Without criticizing colleagues, Solarz distanced himself from actions taken Wednesday by three other visiting members of Congress, who staged a brief demonstration in Tian An Men Square in memory of the Chinese killed in the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing.
The Chinese government Thursday sharply condemned Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Ben Jones (D-Ga.) and John Miller (R-Wash.) for what it described as “illegal activity” and a “premeditated farce.”
The three, on a visit to the square Wednesday, stood before American television cameras while Jones made a brief speech memorializing victims of the 1989 massacre and unfurled a small banner, in English and Chinese, saying, “To Those Who Died for Democracy in China.” They then placed white artificial roses on the pavement near the Monument to the People’s Heroes.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wu Jianmin said Thursday that the actions violated city regulations requiring permission for demonstrations.
The three members of Congress left Beijing on Thursday.