US' hype on normal China-Cambodia naval cooperation exposes 'hegemonic mentality'
Published: Dec 07, 2023 09:23 PM
China Cambodia Photo: VCG

China Cambodia Photo: VCG

The US has again hyped the alleged Chinese control of Cambodia's Ream Naval Base amid reports saying Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warships recently visited the Ream port for the first time since a China-assisted renovation project there started in 2022.

Hegemonic mentality is behind the US' smearing of normal military cooperation between China and Cambodia, experts said on Thursday.

Two PLA Navy corvettes docked at the Ream Naval Base on Sunday in preparation for training the Cambodian navy, CNN reported on Thursday, citing a social media post by Cambodia's Defense Minister Tea Seiha and photos accompanying the post.

It is the first time Chinese warships have docked at the Ream Naval Base, CNN said.

The US is monitoring reports of Chinese warships docking in Cambodia and has serious concerns about "Beijing's plans to have exclusive control over parts of the main naval base there", a US State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday, Reuters reported on Thursday.

China and Cambodia enjoy a deep friendship and have productive cooperation in many fields, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference on Thursday when asked about the reports, but referred to competent authorities for details on the Chinese warships' visit to Cambodia.

China's Ministry of National Defense has yet to announce the visit as of press time.

The Ream Naval Base is currently being renovated with assistance from China.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held on June 8, 2022, when Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said that the renovation project is an achievement of mutual respect and equal consultation between China and Cambodia that conforms with the two countries' domestic laws, international laws and practices and does not target any third party.

After completion, the project will significantly enhance the level of the Cambodian navy's modernization development and effectively boost the Cambodian military's capabilities in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Chinese ambassador said, noting that the Chinese military would continue to provide as much assistance to the Cambodian military as it can and promote the two countries' military cooperation to higher levels, the ambassador said.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday that the US is concerned about China potentially having a military base in Cambodia, despite the fact that China's assistance in renovating a Cambodian naval base is very normal, considering the long history of the two countries' military cooperation.

Cambodia is an independent sovereign country, so the idea that another country can have exclusive control over its military base does not exist, Song said, refuting the US State Department spokesperson's remarks.

The US has hundreds of overseas military bases around the world, but does not accept China having any overseas military bases, even one for logistics support purposes, which exposed the US' Cold War mentality of global military hegemony, Song said.

The US reportedly has nearly 800 military bases in more than 80 countries and regions around the globe, including some on China's doorstep in Japan and South Korea, and it also gained access to additional ones in the Philippines earlier this year.

By comparison, China only has one overseas base, the PLA Djibouti Support base, which supports China's anti-piracy, UN peacekeeping and humanitarian relief missions in the region.