Cambodia limits scrutiny of controversial base U.S. diplomats

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia’s efforts to alleviate US concerns about China’s right to use a naval base in the Gulf of Thailand were limited when US diplomats were invited to inspect it. I was frustrated on Friday because only access was allowed. Embassy.

According to the embassy, ​​military attaché Colonel Marcus M. Ferrara visited the Reem Naval Base in collaboration with Cambodian authorities, but was denied full access to the facility, shortening the visit and scheduling it without restrictions. I asked you to change it. What he could see.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia had fulfilled its commitment to allow visits on demand, and if U.S. authorities were not satisfied, would make another visit unless they spy on or violate Cambodia’s sovereignty. You can request it.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed at a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on June 1 to allow military attachés at the embassy to visit the base on a regular basis, the embassy said in a statement. Stated.

A previous State Department statement on Sherman’s visit expressed “serious concern” about China’s military presence and the construction of base facilities, and why two U.S.-funded buildings were demolished without notice or explanation. He said he sought clarification.

China’s military base in Cambodia “will undermine its sovereignty, threaten regional security, and adversely affect relations between the United States and Cambodia,” Sherman said.

Hun Sen and other Cambodian authorities have consistently claimed that China has not been given special privileges at its base.

Sherman later told journalists that he had a frank conversation with Hun Sen “on the direction of the country,” including China’s presence in Reem, Cambodia’s human rights and “anti-democratic records.” Hun Sen has been in power since 1985 and has a history of crackdowns over the past few years focusing on intimidation through the legal system of critics and political opponents.

The controversy over the Ream Naval Base came two years ago when the Wall Street Journal reported that an early draft of a reputable agreement seen by U.S. authorities allowed China to use the base for 30 years, where military personnel could be stationed. It happened to. Keep weapons and warships in Bath.

China is Cambodia’s largest investor and closest political partner. With Beijing’s support, Cambodia can ignore Western concerns that it has poor records of human and political rights, and Cambodia generally supports Beijing’s geopolitical position on issues such as claiming sovereignty in the South China Sea. There is.

Basic rights in Cambodia have significantly expanded Beijing’s strategic military profile, tilted the balance of power in the region, and historically the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose security concerns are more closely aligned with the United States. Will put pressure on.

“Regular and frequent visits to the Ream Naval Base by US and other foreign military attachés can be an important step towards increasing transparency and mutual trust,” a statement from the US Embassy said. It was.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said his country has shown transparency and accountability in response to a request to visit the United States.

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