CAMBODIA SINKS FEARS ABOUT CONSTRUCTION OF SINO NAVAL BASE
Cambodia's government denied that its demolition of a US-funded facility at one of its naval bases is a signal that China will be granted basing privileges there, saying the work only involves planned infrastructure improvements, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The statement by the National Committee for Maritime Security on Monday was in response to recent media reports highlighting new concerns over China's suspected plans for Cambodia's Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand. The stories were based on satellite photos showing the demolished facility and earlier statements from Cambodian officials, Mainichi Shimbun also reported. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that an early draft of a reputed agreement seen by US officials would allow China 30-year use of the Ream base, where it would be able to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships.
The committee said its Tactical Command Headquarters, "an operational unit responsible for implementing multi-agency law enforcement" in cooperation with the US and Australia, had been a temporary structure, and plans were begun in late 2017 to relocate it. It said the existing facility was too small and lacked docking facilities, with limited capacity for training and other activities, so a larger facility was being established at a new location, with no change in function or relationships with foreign partners. China is Cambodia's closest political ally and main source of economic support, through aid and investment.