Cambodia’s changing relations with the so-called “international community”, including the European Union’s decision to partially withdraw Cambodia’s preferential trade benefits and the closure of the Swedish Embassy in 2020, have given rise to concerns about Cambodia’s impending break with the West and tilt towards China. This article examines how Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has negotiated public concerns about the adjustments in international support from donor countries and institutions, particularly following the 2018 elections. Through an examination of his speeches since the early 2000s, this article argues that one of Hun Sen’s key rhetorical strategies is his sustained engagement with an inherent paradox of “the international community”: the possibility for actors to become morally excluded from, but remain structurally integrated in, the international community. Six themes he thereby developed inform his nationalist message about the advantages arising from the changing nature of Cambodia’s international cooperation, in which Cambodia is able to engage the world on an equal footing with other countries while free of any constraints imposed by its international donors. In this vision, the international order becomes a “sphere of opportunity”, rather than a “sphere of scrutiny”, for Cambodia.