Cambodia insists it does not make an ‘exclusive military base’ for China
Cambodia’s Ream naval base – Photo: AFP
On June 7, the Phnom Penh government denied the information published in the newspaper Washington Post One day earlier that China was building a secret base for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Cambodia’s Ream naval base on the Gulf of Thailand.
The US newspaper quoted Western officials as saying that the groundbreaking for the construction of the new facility is expected to take place this week with the participation of some Chinese officials.
In response, Cambodia said the construction of a new facility at the Ream base was no secret.
“Cambodia will not allow the Chinese military to exclusively use or develop this site as a military base,” government spokesman Phay Siphan told AFP news agency.
According to AFP news agency, Cambodia’s defense minister and Chinese ambassador are expected to be present at the ground-breaking ceremony on June 8. The new facility is expected to include a ship repair yard and a dock.
China has also denied that the base in Cambodia will only be for the country’s navy.
“The conversion of Ream Naval Base is only to strengthen the capacity of the Cambodian navy in preserving maritime territorial sovereignty and suppressing crimes at sea,” said spokesman Trieu Lap Kien of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. China said June 7.
Beijing says Washington’s “malicious speculations” are “aimed at attacking and smearing” Cambodia.
Previously, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also repeatedly affirmed that the modernization of the Ream base would only be done with support from China. “Cambodia does not need the presence of foreign troops on its territory,” Hun Sen said last month.
After the information is reported Washington Post posted, Australia has voiced concerns. “We encourage Beijing to be transparent about its intentions and ensure activities that support security and stability in the region,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said while in Indonesia.
Canberra has also recently been concerned about China’s growing influence in the Pacific, including the agreement between China and the Solomon Islands. A leaked draft agreement suggests China would be allowed to deploy troops on the island nation less than 2,000 kilometers from Australia.
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