During 1960, Prince Norodom Sihanouk's policies protected his nation from the turmoil that engulfed Laos and RVN.On 3 May 1965, The Prince broke relations with the U.S., and turned to the PRC and the Soviet Union to make up for it. By 1960, the Prince's domestic and foreign policy balancing act was beginning to go awry. In 1966, there was an agreement between the prince and the Chinese, allowing the presence of large-scale People's Army of Vietnam and NLF troop deployments and logistical bases in the eastern border regions.
Meeting in Beijing: (from left)
Mao Zedong , Prince Sihanouk , and Le Duc Tho
The Prince believed that the PRC, would control the Indochinese Peninsula and that our interests are best served by dealing with the camp that one day will govern the whole of Asia.However, he allowed his pro-American Minister of Defense, General Lon Nol to crack down on leftist activities. He then faced failure as not many people supported him.On 11 September, Cambodia held its first open election.The conservatives won 75 percent of the seats in the National Assembly. Lon Nol was chosen by the right as prime minister and, Sirik Matak, his deputy.
Revolt in Battambang
The prince was in a political dilemma. One of Lon Nol's first priorities was to fix the economy by stopping the illegal sale of rice to the communists. Soldiers were dispatched to the rice-growing areas to forcably collect the harvests at gunpoint, and they paid only the low government price. There was wide-spread unrest, in where the communists still had some influence.
General Lon Nol
11 March 1967, a rebellion broke out in the area around Samlaut in Battambang. With encouragement of local communist cadres, the insurrection quickly spread throughout the whole region. Lon Nol responded by declaring martial law. Hundreds of peasants were killed and whole villages were laid waste during the repression. After returning home in March, Sihanouk abandoned his position and personally ordered the arrest of Khieu Samphan, Hou Yuon, and Hu Nim, the leaders of the "countergovernment", all of whom escaped into the northeast. Lon Nol was forced to resign, the prince named new leftists to the government to balance the conservatives.
While the 1967 insurgency had been unplanned, the Khmer Rouge tried, without much success, to organize a more serious revolt during the following year. They led their followers into the highlands of the northeast and into the lands of the Khmer Loeu, a primitive people who were hostile to both the lowland Khmers and the central government. For the Khmer Rouge, who still lacked assistance from the DRV, it was a period of regroupment, organization, and training. Hanoi basically ignored its Chinese-sponsored allies, and the indifference of their "fraternal comrades" to their insurgency from 1967 to 1969 would make an indelible impression on the Khmer Rouge leadership.
Pol Pot : commander of Khmer Rouge forces
17 January 1968, the Khmer Rouge launched their first offensive. It was aimed more at gathering weapons and spreading propaganda than in seizing territory since, at that time, the adherents of the insurgency numbered no more than 5,000. During the same month, the communists established the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea as the military wing of the party. The prince earlier agreement with the Chinese had availed him nothing. They had not only failed to restrain the DRV, but they had actually involved themselves in active subversion within his country.At the suggestion of Lon Nol and other conservative politicians, on 11 May 1969, the prince welcomed the restoration of normal diplomatic relations with the U.S. and created a new Government of National Salvation with Lon Nol as his prime minister. He did so in order to play a new card, since the Asian communists are already attacking us before the end of the Vietnam War.The Americans took advantage of this same opportunity to solve some of their own problems in Southeast Asia.