Washington: China is constructing a naval station for military purposes in Cambodia, its second such overseas presence and its first in the strategically important Indo-Pacific area. According to The Washington Post, the military presence will be on the northern section of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, near the Gulf of Thailand. After a naval station in the East African republic of Djibouti, this is China’s only other foreign military installation at the moment.
Such sites can facilitate the deployment of military personnel in theatre as well as intelligence surveillance of the US military. It went on to say that the new naval facility is part of Beijing’s aim to establish a worldwide network of military facilities to support its ambitions to become a truly global power. According to US officials and analysts, having a base capable of hosting major Navy warships would be a crucial component of the country’s aim to increase its influence in the area.
‘We believe the Indo-Pacific is an essential element for China’s leaders, who regard it as China’s rightful and historic area of influence,’ one Western diplomat said. ‘ They see China’s growth there as part of a worldwide trend toward a multipolar world in which big countries push their interests more aggressively in their respective spheres of influence’. According to The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019, China has inked a secret agreement to allow its military to use the site, citing US and ally sources familiar with the situation.
Both countries, though, have refuted the claim. Both Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and China’s Defense Ministry rejected the claims at the time. ‘ What we’ve observed over time is a very clear and consistent pattern of attempting to confuse and conceal both the final aim as well as the degree of Chinese military engagement,’ the second official told The Washington Post. ‘What is important here is the [PLA’s] exclusive usage of the facility and creating a unilateral military base in another country’.