China is building a naval facility in Cambodia for military use, the second such overseas outpost and the first in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region.
The military presence will be in the northern part of the Cambodian naval base of Ream, on the Gulf of Thailand, The Washington Post reported. This is currently China’s only other foreign military base, after a naval facility in the East African country of Djibouti.
Such bases could allow for the deployment of military forces in the theater and oversight of US military intelligence services, according to the report.
It further said the new naval base is part of Beijing’s strategy to build a network of military facilities around the world to support its ambitions to become a true global power.
Having a facility capable of housing large naval vessels would be a key element of the country’s ambition to expand its influence in the region, US officials and analysts said.
“We believe the Indo-Pacific is an important piece for Chinese leaders, who see the Indo-Pacific as China’s legitimate and historic sphere of influence,” said a Western official. “They see China’s rise there as part of a global trend toward a multipolar world where major powers are more vigorously asserting their interests in their perceived sphere of influence.”
China had signed a secret agreement to allow its military to use the base, citing US and allied officials familiar with the matter, according to The Wall Street Journal published in 2019.
However, both countries had denied the report. At the time, both Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Chinese Defense Ministry had rejected the reports.
“What we have seen over time is a very clear and consistent pattern of attempts to obscure and conceal both the end goal and the extent of Chinese military involvement,” the second official told The Post. “The most important thing here is the [PLA’s] exclusive use of the facility and having a unilateral military base in another country.”
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