Biden’s concerns over Ream Naval Base exposes biased views on China-Cambodia cooperation: experts
Published: Nov 14, 2022 02:01 AM

China Cambodia Photo: VCG

China Cambodia Photo: VCG

US President Joe Biden raised concerns over Chinese activities at the Cambodian Ream Naval Base while meeting the leader of Cambodia Hun Sen on Saturday. Experts said such concerns exposed US' double standard and prejudiced views through "colored spectacles" on China-Cambodia cooperation.

In a meeting with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of an international summit, US President Joe Biden raised concerns regarding the situation at Ream Naval Base and underscored the importance of full transparency about activities by the PRC military at Ream Naval Base, said the White House in a statement on Saturday. 

Biden's concerns over Chinese activities at the naval base didn't appear in the statement from Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, but triggered questions from media at the post-ASEAN Press Conference on Saturday evening.

Responding to media's question over the US' statement, Kong Phok, Official Spokesperson of the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings 2022, said that Cambodia did not hide the Chinese army at the Ream Naval Base, khmer Times reported.  

Experts pointed out that Biden's concerns came amid the fact that China has no overseas military base while the US has built numerous ones around the globe which China has never made comments on.

China has neither stationed warship nor enhanced its military presence at the Ream Naval Base but conducted facility renovation based on bilateral national interests, Xu Liping, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Xu questioned the meaning of transparency raised by Biden. "Is it an obligation for countries to fully make public their bilateral cooperation contents? Has the US made all its bilateral cooperation with other countries open and transparent?" said Xu.

The Ream Naval Base is on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand in Cambodia's southwestern province of Preah Sihanouk. In June, China started assisting Cambodia to expand and upgrade the naval base.  

As an achievement of mutual respect and equal communication between China and Cambodia, the renovation project of Ream Naval Base conforms with international laws and practices and does not target any third party, said Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian at the project opening ceremony, refuting Western media reports that China is building a military base in Cambodia.

Cambodia's Minister of National Defense Tea Banh, who also attended the opening ceremony, spoke highly of Cambodia-China close cooperation on the renovation project, saying the project will help Cambodia improve its navy's capacity in cooperating with friendly countries and help maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity. 

The US always stresses an international order based on rules. But the rules don't mean double standard, said Xu, urging the US to take off its "color spectacles" to look at China-Cambodia cooperation realistically.