China opens naval base in Cambodia, officials go swimming together to celebrate

photo of Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh and Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian via Tea Banh's Official Facebook

Despite experts predicting that ASEAN nations would not pick sides between the US and China, Cambodia seems to be cozying up to its powerful Chinese neighbour, with officials even going for a dip in the sea together.

Cambodia’s Minister of Defense Tea Banh and Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian were spotted bathing in the sea together after the opening ceremony of a naval base built by China in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville province earlier this month. The Ream Naval Base is China’s first naval facility in mainland Southeast Asia.

Ream Naval Base is considered to be a way for China to expand its military patrols across the region. However, the idea that Cambodia is giving China special military treatment has been called a “complete insult” by defense minister Tea Banh. Tea Banh says Cambodia is “independent, sovereign, and has the full right to decide its destiny.”

Last month, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the White House in Washington for the first time to attend the US-ASEAN Summit hosted by Joe Biden. The US President promised to grow America’s relationship with Cambodia and pursue common goals in the region. However, Hun Sen’s US visit was not welcomed by all, with one man throwing a shoe at the Cambodian Prime Minister.

Other ASEAN nations have not outwardly picked sides when it comes to ever-contentious US-Sino relations, but China has been offering cash and assistance all around Southeast Asia in recent times. Analysts say Washington should act quickly or else risk losing out to Beijing.

The position of other Southeast Asian nations is not clear, with the exception of Myanmar, who were not invited to the US-ASEAN Summit in Washington in light of ongoing human rights abuses in the country since the junta took power by military coup in February 2021.

SOURCE: Benar News

World News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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