Phnom Penh, Oct, 26, 2020 (dpa/Naija247news) Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday dismissed reports that the country is planning to host a Chinese military base.
The destruction of two U.S. funded buildings at the country’s Ream Naval Base, as shown in satellite images in September, from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, has reignited speculation about the site.
The Cambodian opposition, has capitalised on the issue, as they urged supporters to protests against China’s influence in the country. This appeared to prompt today’s response from Hun Sen.
According to state outlet Agence Kampuchea Presse, Hun Sen said at a ceremony for a new bridge in Phnom Penh that “there are Chinese investors and technical experts here, but where is the Chinese armed personnel?
“Where are the Chinese troops in Cambodia to be expelled? Please show the evidence.’’
The comments come after reports that Ream Naval Base is slated to host Chinese military assets.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that the countries had signed a secret deal to allow Chinese forces to access the site on the Gulf of Thailand.
United States officials have also expressed concerns about Ream’s potential to host Chinese military assets.
In 2019, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Joseph Felter wrote to Cambodia’s Defence Minister Tea Banh after Cambodia reneged on plans to upgrade two U.S.-funded buildings at Ream.
Felter suggested the flip flop could indicate plans to allow China to use the base.