The Cambodian and Chinese militaries were yesterday conducting live-fire drills on the last day of a joint military exercise in Kampong Speu’s Samroang Tong district.
The exercise, intended to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and China, began on March 17 with a focus on combatting terrorism and came to an end yesterday.
Over the two weeks, 307 Cambodian troops and 216 Chinese troops joined the exercise. The exercise included road repairs, mine and UXO clearance, bridge construction, and resettlement of disaster victims.
Three helicopters, eight armoured personnel carriers and other military materials from China arrived in Cambodia a few days ahead of the military exercise between both countries.
The Chinese government picked up the majority of the tab for the exercise, officials said.
Defence Minister Tea Banh, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo, and Zhou Songhe, Deputy Commander of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, arrived at the site yesterday and oversaw the live-fire exercise.
At the exercise site, the militaries used armoured personnel carriers, tanks and helicopters from both sides to attack terrorist camps and rescue hostages.
The live-fire included mortar launching, helicopter live-fire attacks from mounted machine guns and rockets.
China’s two helicopters hovered over the site and deployed troops to fight against terrorists and rescue the hostages, with support from four rockets and machine-gun mounted helicopters hitting targets from the air.
Three armoured personnel carriers and three tanks converged and attacked the terrorist camps.
Both sides said afterwards that the exercise was a success and that they were committed to organising future exercises to build up the capacity of both militaries.
Speaking after the exercise, General Banh praised China for its aid to develop and help Cambodia enhance its independence and defend its sovereignty.
Gen Banh added that China has helped the Cambodia military with training, transports, logistics, equipment, and cooperation to fight transnational crime, human trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism.
“The exercise enabled both militaries to exchange knowledge, experiences and learn from each other and bring about closer cooperation to maintain peace in the region and the world,” Gen Banh said. Mr Songhe echoed Gen Banh’s remark, saying that the exercise improved the capacity of both militaries.
Mr Songhe said that the exercise was to showcase to the world that Cambodia and China were strong enough to combat and prevent terrorism.
“One message that we want to show to the world is anti-terrorism,” he said. “We want to show them that China and Cambodia cooperate with each other to keep peace and security.”
Mr Bo, the Chinese ambassador, said the Chinese government would continue to support Cambodia in defending its sovereignty, independence and enforcing the law to maintain peace.
China has become Cambodia’s largest development aid donor and provider of foreign investment.
As a major source of development assistance, China has disbursed more than $200 million annually since 1992 and has provided about $3 billion in concessional loans and grants to Cambodia.