Cambodia denies secret port deal with China to host PLA Navy

Cambodia reportedly working under Beijing's direction on at least two port facilities

File photo: PLA Navy sailors

File photo: PLA Navy sailors (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On July 21, the Wall Street Journal reported that China has signed a secret agreement with the Cambodian government that would allow Chinese military forces access to a naval outpost on the Gulf of Thailand.

News of the secret deal to allow PLA troops and equipment to use Cambodian naval facilities at Ream Naval Base in the Preah Sihanouk Province has raised alarm in the region. On Monday (July 22), the Cambodian government fervently denied such a deal.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in dramatic fashion, claimed that the reports were “the worst-ever made up news against Cambodia.” He claimed Chinese troops could never be hosted in Cambodia because the Constitution forbids it, reports Reuters.

However, international observers, including the U.S. State Department, have been increasingly concerned that Beijing is attempting to expand the effective range of its military through infrastructure projects in Cambodia. Washington has urged Cambodia to reconsider its partnership with Beijing.

Another recently reported project of concern in Cambodia is the Dara Sakor Seashore Resort Long Term Project, located in Koh Kong Province just north of the Ream Naval Base. In early July, an Indian military officer analyzed the satellite imagery of the ongoing infrastructure project in Koh Kong and confidently indicated that the site was being prepared as another potential naval base for use by the Chinese.