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China’s Naval Presence in Cambodia Raises US Concerns

Chinese warships from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently visited Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, sparking renewed concerns from the United States about China’s influence in the region. The visit marks the first docking of Chinese warships at the base since 2022 when China was involved in renovations. While the US State Department expressed worry about Beijing’s potential exclusive control over parts of the naval base, Chinese officials emphasized the deep friendship and cooperation between China and Cambodia.

 

 

US Concerns and Hegemonic Mentality

The US, noting China’s involvement in the renovation of the Ream Naval Base, expressed concerns about Beijing’s plans for exclusive control over certain areas of the strategic facility. The State Department is closely monitoring reports of Chinese warships docking in Cambodia. Some experts argue that the US’s concerns stem from a Cold War-era hegemonic mentality, where it maintains numerous overseas military bases worldwide but is hesitant to acknowledge China’s strategic presence.

Renovation Project and Chinese Assistance

The Ream Naval Base renovation project is a collaborative effort between China and Cambodia, emphasizing mutual respect and equal consultation. Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian stated that the project adheres to the laws and practices of both nations and international norms, emphasizing that it doesn’t target any third party. Once completed, the project aims to enhance the Cambodian navy’s modernization and military capabilities to safeguard territorial integrity.

China’s Reassurance and Military Cooperation

Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian reassured that China would continue to support Cambodia’s military to the fullest extent, fostering new heights in military cooperation. While China asserts that its involvement is normal given the countries’ long-standing military cooperation, the US remains wary of China potentially establishing a military base in Cambodia.

US Overseas Military Presence and Double Standards

Chinese military expert Song Zhongping highlighted the US’s extensive global military footprint, with around 800 military bases in over 80 nations, including bases near China in South Korea and Japan. Song criticized the US for refusing to acknowledge China’s overseas military base, citing a Cold War-era concept of global military hegemony. He argued that Cambodia, as an independent sovereign nation, makes its own decisions regarding military facilities.

China’s Limited Overseas Base

China’s only overseas base is the PLA Djibouti Support base, which supports military operations in the region, including anti-piracy, UN peacekeeping, and humanitarian relief. While China’s involvement in renovating the Cambodian naval base aligns with historical military cooperation, the US remains skeptical, revealing broader geopolitical tensions.

China’s naval presence in Cambodia raises concerns from the US, highlighting underlying geopolitical dynamics and differing perspectives on military influence in the region. The Ream Naval Base renovation project serves as a focal point for tensions, emphasizing the complex interplay between China’s expanding global footprint and US strategic interests.

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