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China paying for majority of joint military exercise

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Gen Ith Sarath briefs media yesterday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Chinese government is picking up the majority of the tab for the joint military exercise between China and Cambodia from March 17 to 30 in Kampong Speu province’s Samroang Tong district.

General Ith Sarath, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said yesterday that the joint military exercise would include 307 Cambodian troops and 216 Chinese troops.

A total of 574 people, including other labour forces and translators, will join in the exercise.

Gen Sarath said that Cambodia would be responsible for some of the costs, but would not say how much.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is paying for most of the expenses for the joint military exercise. They are paying for the bulk of it and we are supporting a little,” he said.

Gen Sarath said some topics of the exercise included road repairs, mine and UXO clearance, bridge construction, and resettlement of disaster victims.

There would also be machine-gun fire from helicopters onto terrorist camps and the shooting of rockets and heavy artillery.

He said China was bringing three helicopters, eight tanks and other vehicles and weapons to use in the joint military exercise while Cambodia had six helicopters, eight tanks and other vehicles.

Gen Sarath noted that last year Cambodia cancelled joint military exercises with the United States and China because RCAF was busy with a campaign against drugs, and the commune elections.

“We are holding this exercise to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and China,” he said. “There is no other reason.”

Gen Sarath added that Cambodia held joint military exercises with other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

Defence Minister Tea Banh yesterday said at the National Defence University that the joint military exercise between Cambodia and China was not being held to threaten other countries or individuals, but only to exchange experiences and celebrate the anniversary of diplomatic relations.

“We join each other to improve the ability to exchange experiences,” he said. “It is not organised to threaten anyone.”

Gen Sarath said in a statement last week that Cambodia and China would hold a “Counter Terrorism and Humanity Work” exercise from March 15 to 30.

“Please all the people and all local level authorities be informed and don’t be surprised to hear the sound of explosions and movement of military vehicles within the district,” he said.

To guarantee security during the military exercise, RCAF has asked the secretariat of civil aviation and local authorities to help disseminate information in order to prevent civilians from entering the exercise area and any planes or drones from flying over it.

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