U.S. calls Cambodian government opaque, claiming China’s military operations at naval bases

Phnom Penh, Cambodia — The United States accused the Cambodian government of lack of transparency in China’s construction activities at its largest naval base and called on the public to disclose the full extent of Beijing’s military involvement.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) announced on Wednesday that it said it was a satellite image showing the construction of three new buildings and the start of new roads.

Chad Ledemeier, a spokesperson for the US Embassy, ​​said in a statement that the presence of foreign troops in Reem would violate the Cambodian constitution and jeopardize the security of the region.

“The Cambodian government is not completely transparent about the intent, nature, scope, or role of the Chinese military in this project, raising concerns about the purpose of use of naval facilities,” he said, referring to the Communist Party of China. ..

“Cambodians deserve to know more about the project in Reem and speak out about this kind of military agreement that has long-term implications for their country.”

Cambodia’s relations with the United States have recently argued over US claims that the ruling party is persecuting its adversaries and concerns over the influence of China’s ruling Communist Party.

A year ago, Cambodia said it had destroyed a US-funded facility at Ream Naval Base to allow further expansion. The United States said Cambodia declined an offer to repair the base a year ago.

Cambodia has repeatedly denied reports that China plans to deploy troops at its facility.

Such a move is important for China, a region where the United States has maintained its presence in the region for decades through joint exercises in countries such as Thailand and the Philippines, as well as bases once operated by the United States.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said China’s construction in Reem was part of its development assistance.

“Once construction is complete, our port will be open to everyone,” said Phay Siphan, adding that China had not built military facilities.

“If we have other friends to help with the construction, we will allow it and welcome all countries to use it once the construction is done,” he said.

By Prak Chan Thul