Military Review

U.S. worries about risk of Chinese naval base in Cambodia


US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman recently held a two-hour meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh. During the meeting, the diplomat expressed serious concern about the presence of the PRC military at the Cambodian naval base Ream.

Apparently, it was this circumstance that gave rise to another concern - about the observance of human rights by the Cambodian authorities and the political future of the Cambodian opposition. Usually, the State Department "turns on the plate" of human rights when it wants to put pressure on a country and express its dissatisfaction with its policies.

The Ream naval base is located in the province of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand. Sihanoukville is the country's main sea harbor, home to a civilian port and a famous resort. Chinese companies have increasingly invested in Sihanoukville's infrastructure, including civil port terminals, hotels and casinos, in recent years. For China, settling in Sihanoukville means gaining access to the seas of Southeast Asia.

Naturally, China also offered its help for the modernization of the naval base, so there is nothing surprising in the fact that the country's authorities in the future may be ready to provide Beijing with the opportunity to use the Ream base. Moreover, this is quite natural, given that it is China that is now making large-scale investments in the Cambodian economy.

Not so long ago, in March 2021, another hearing was held at the US Senate Armed Services Committee, at which the then Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, spoke. A senior military official said that in September 2020, the Cambodian authorities demolished the headquarters of the National Maritime Safety Committee, which at one time was built with the participation of the United States. This step, according to the admiral, the Cambodians took in order to make room for the construction of a Chinese military facility.

The US Center for Strategic and International Studies has published satellite images showing two structures that appeared on the site of the demolished object. Meanwhile, the Cambodian Navy says China is backing a port expansion project that will include a newly dredged port and a shipyard.

US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman demanded that the Cambodian authorities explain why they demolished buildings in Ream, which were once built with American money, without notifying the United States, and stressed that the appearance of a Chinese military base in Cambodia would threaten both the country's relations with the United States and its state sovereignty and regional security.

However, Cambodian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Tea Ban denies that the base will be used by China, and wonders why his country cannot resort to the support of the PRC in the implementation of certain projects. A strange "state sovereignty" is obtained.

However, the United States itself pushed Cambodia into the arms of Beijing, touching upon issues that the country does not like to discuss. For example, the United States and the EU began to make claims to the Cambodian government about the persecution of the political opposition. Hong Sen, like any other ruler, is concerned about maintaining his power, and in China, in this case, he sees an alternative source of power, which, if necessary, can provide him with support.

It is clear that the United States does not like this, but the mechanism has already been launched: China will continue to increase its presence in Cambodia, also because the choice for Chinese bases in the region is not great: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei are allies of the United States , Vietnam is China's longtime opponent, Cambodia and Myanmar remain.

By the way, the irony of fate is that both Hun Sen and his permanent defense minister Tea Ban were both born into families of Chinese origin, but at one time they belonged to the pro-Vietnamese faction of Cambodian communists, which opposed Chinese influence and focused on Vietnam. But times have changed, and now Vietnam is ready to cooperate with the United States against China, and the former pro-Vietnamese communists are ready to help China in exchange for investments.
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  1. NF68
    NF68 2 June 2021 16: 32
    Presumably, even in the next 20-25 years, Americans will have to worry more than once for similar reasons. And then howl looking at the moon. Or to Mars.
    1. hirurg
      hirurg 2 June 2021 18: 20
      And we will stand and watch as the hegemon twitches on several fronts.)
      1. NF68
        NF68 3 June 2021 16: 21
        Quote: hirurg
        And we will stand and watch as the hegemon twitches on several fronts.)

        Hegemon is strenuously looking for those who will be ready to pull roasted chestnuts out of the fire for the Hegemon. For example, India, which the United States is trying to use in its own interests to confront China. Whether the United States succeeds this time or not, one can assume a lot and hope for a lot. But sooner or later it will be more and more difficult to find such US fools. It is already clear even now that, in addition to jackals like Poland and the giant states from the Baltic states, there are fewer and fewer fools, and even these fools behave more and more neutral and are not particularly eager to help the hegemon.
  2. Prisoner
    Prisoner 2 June 2021 16: 37
    what Nh-ah! Mattress toppers will not be able to outbid Cambodia from China like Sudan from ours. China has more dollars than a mattress machine can print for many years. laughing
  3. spirit
    spirit 2 June 2021 16: 46
    All the totalitarian leaders of the region, who have been sitting in a warmed place for 10 years, go to bow and defend to the main pope of the SI hi
  4. tralflot1832
    tralflot1832 2 June 2021 16: 53
    For Cambodia, China is close, and the United States is far away, and if Premier Hun Sen smiled during the negotiations, it might be so distracting from the American woman.
    APASUS 2 June 2021 16: 56
    The Americans would offer Cambodia an investment package of 30 billion and demanded a change in policy towards China. And only slave countries can change profitable decisions so easily
  6. knn54
    knn54 2 June 2021 16: 56
    -Vietnam is ready to cooperate with the United States against China.
    This guide is ready, but not the people. Even teenagers truly hate the USA.
    Although the attitude towards the PRC is no better, it happened historically.
    After the military coup, the Yankees' relations with Myanmar are tense.
    Laos is trying to adhere to neutrality, maintaining equal relations with both the PRC and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
    True, Lao PDR is landlocked.
    1. stalkerwalker
      stalkerwalker 2 June 2021 17: 01
      Having visited Thailand, and having gone on an excursion to Cambodia (Angkor Wat, etc.), I came up with one thought - in Southeast Asia, everyone hates each other. The Thai people hate the Khmers, the Cambodians hate the Vietnamese, the latter hate the Chinese, and so on in a circle.
      1. Alien From
        Alien From 2 June 2021 17: 03
        And yet, almost all Asians of mattresses, so to speak, are not very ...
        1. stalkerwalker
          stalkerwalker 2 June 2021 17: 06
          Thailand owes them the grave. They remember, keep a good memory, which cannot be said about Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. They remember something else.
  7. Alien From
    Alien From 2 June 2021 17: 02
    Let them keep their anxiety to themselves.
  8. faterdom
    faterdom 2 June 2021 17: 26
    There is no such thing: "American interests in the region." This is a deceitful term in itself.
    They are only in the US region - American, and in all other cases we are talking about infringement of other people's interests.
  9. notingem
    notingem 2 June 2021 22: 15
    The only thing left for the United States is to revive the Khmer Rouge and bring Pol Pot democracy to the region.