China hails ‘ironclad partnership’ with Cambodia as work begins on naval base, raising US concern
- Cambodian defence minister dismisses fears that his country would let China build a military base on its soil, saying any country could use the facilities
- New port near South China Sea will be deepened to accommodate larger military ships and will include maintenance facility, dry dock slipway and pier
Cambodian Minister of Defence Tea Banh dismissed fears that Cambodia would let China build a military base on its soil, saying any country could use the facilities at the Ream naval base, while Cambodia was open to accepting military help from anyone.
“As a strong pillar of the ironclad partnership, China-Cambodia military cooperation is in the fundamental interests of our two nations and two peoples,” China’s ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said in a speech at a ceremony to break ground at the base on the Gulf of Thailand.
The US has raised “serious concerns” about China’s involvement with the base, saying it undermines regional security.
Last year, the US accused Cambodia of not being transparent about China’s role in upgrading the facility.
Hun Sen, dismissing such concerns, has moved close to China, which is by far the biggest investor in Cambodia.
Underlining Cambodia’s warm ties with China, Tea Banh this week posted pictures on social media of him taking a dip in the sea with Wang near the base.
But Tea Banh was also keen to allay fears in the US and the region that Cambodia might open the door to China’s military.
“The Kingdom of Cambodia will not allow a foreign military base on its own territory,” he said in a speech on Wednesday.