Japanese Warships Arrive in Sihanoukville, Chinese to Moor Next Week

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Japanese navy warships arrived at the Sihanoukville port for a 4-day visit to Cambodia. Supplied

Three Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships dropped anchor in Cambodian waters yesterday, mooring at a Sihanoukville provincial port for a three-day visit meant to strengthen the relationship and boost bilateral ties between Cambodia and Japan, according to General Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the National Defense Ministry. Their presence precedes a visit next week by the Chinese Navy, which will moor three of its own warships in Sihanoukville for a five-day spell.
On Wednesday morning, the three ships, Akebono, Yamayuki and Hatakaze as well as their several hundred crew members were warmly welcomed to the Kingdom at a ceremony.
“The objectives of the travel to the Kingdom are enhancing naval relations and cooperation through various exchange programs,” Gen. Socheat told Khmer Times.
Next week, three Chinese warships will dock in Sihanoukville for a five-day visit, Gen. Socheat added.
The Chinese vessels are part of a fleet servicing the South China Sea fleet. They are the Liu Zhou 573, the San Ya 574 and the Qingaihu 885, which is the largest of the three ships. They will carry about 1,000 crew members to Cambodia for training exercises and cooperation between both naval forces, according to a Royal Cambodian Navy press release.  
“During the visit, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy warships will perform joint training exercises to strengthen security with the Royal Cambodian Navy around Koh Tang, Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Russei islands in Sihanoukville province,” the press release said. It added, “Rear Admiral Yu Manjiang, Deputy Chief of Staff, South Sea Fleet, will pay a courtesy call to Deputy Prime Minister and National Defense Minister Tea Banh along with other commanding officials as well.”
The visits come as ASEAN leaders finish a two-day summit with the US in California, where one of the main issues discussed was the South China Sea and East Sea disputes between a number of Asian nations and China, all of which claim ownership of some part of the seas. Yesterday, Taiwanese defense officials reported the deployment of Chinese surface-to-air missles on one of the disputed islands.
Cambodia itself has received some criticism from ASEAN member states for failing to release a unified declaration on a code of conduct for the South China Sea in 2012.

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