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US newspaper: Western officials suspect China of setting up a naval base in Cambodia

The Washington Post quoted Western officials as accusing China is secretly building a naval base exclusively for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Cambodia, but both Beijing and Phnom Penh deny this information.

This facility will be located in the northern region Ream naval base of the Cambodia on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand and ground-breaking is expected this week, unnamed Western officials told the newspaper The Washington Post June 6.

Breaking ground on 9.6?

From 2019, newspaper The Wall Street Journal reported that China signed a secret agreement allowed their military to use the base at Ream, citing US and allied officials with knowledge of the matter. Beijing and Phnom Penh have denied this, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen saying this is “fake news”. A spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense at the time also criticized the “rumors” and said that China was merely helping Cambodia train soldiers and equip logistics.

American newspaper: Western officials suspect China of setting up a naval base in Cambodia - Photo 1

Cambodian soldiers at Ream . base


However, over the weekend, a Chinese official in Beijing confirmed to The Washington Post that “part of the base” will be “used by the Chinese military”. The official denied the PLA had “exclusive” use of the Ream base, and said scientists would also use the facility. According to the official, China is not engaged in any activities on Cambodian territory at the base.

The official also said that the groundbreaking ceremony is expected to take place on June 9 with the participation of Chinese officials. The Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia is expected to be present.

When asked for comment, the Cambodian Embassy in Washington said in a statement that it “completely disagrees with the content and meaning of the article because it is a baseless accusation aimed at creating a negative image.” positive about Cambodia”. The embassy also said Cambodia “resolutely abides by” the national constitution, not allowing foreign bases to build or present. military on Cambodian soil.

“The reclamation of the base is only intended to strengthen the capacity of the Cambodian navy to protect integrity at sea and combat maritime crimes including illegal fishing,” the statement said.

China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment Post.

Western officials believe that it is likely that at the groundbreaking ceremony, relevant parties will confirm China’s participation in the financing and construction of the expansion of the Ream naval base, but will not acknowledge the plan to the PLA. use this base.

American newspaper: Western officials suspect China of setting up a naval base in Cambodia - Photo 2

The Ream base is located on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand


When US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited the base on a regional tour last year, her activities were “very limited”, according to a Western official.

Western officials argue that consolidating a foothold in Cambodia is part of China’s strategy of building a network of military facilities across the country. world to serve Beijing’s ambition to become a true global power.

“We assess that the Indo-Pacific is an important piece of the puzzle for China’s leaders, who see the Indo-Pacific as a region of historical and political influence. worthy of China,” a second official said. “They see China’s rise there as part of a global trend toward a multipolar world, where strong powers assert interests in the region they perceive as their influence.” .

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