Three US congressmen met with Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn and Defence Minister General Tea Banh, yesterday asking them to verify if the Kingdom has allowed a Chinese military base in the Kingdom.
“We asked the Deputy Prime Minister [Mr Sokhonn]about this specifically because if true, it would be against Cambodia’s constitution to have a Chinese naval base here,” said Seth Wilbur Moulton. “The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated his commitment that China will not have a naval base in Cambodia.”
When asked if they accepted the explanation, Mr Seth did not comment.
“The United States of America wants a healthy, prosperous and sovereign Cambodia and we want to help continue the process of Cambodia continuing to grow their democratic government and advance that process to improve,” he said. “These are things that we think are really important for Cambodia as well as our relationship.”
On July 2019, The Wall Street Journal published a report alleging that a secret deal had been struck between China and Cambodia, for China to set up a base, an allegation vehemently denied by both countries.
The US congressmen also touched other issues such as promoting ties between the Kingdom and the US.
“We had honest conversations which is exactly what we did. We shared our gratitude for the growth that our relationship has had in the past. But also have some concerns over democratic reforms and human rights which are important to America,” he added.
Gen Banh clarified that no Chinese military base existed in Cambodia.
“The US is too concerned about a Chinese naval base. It does not exist because it violates Cambodia’s constitution,” Gen Banh said.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said yesterday that the US wanted the Kingdom and China’s ties to be broken by reiterating such an unfounded claim about the base.
“The US wants to show other countries that Cambodia is leaning too close to China. That is why it always keeps accusing Cambodia of allowing China to build a naval base,” Mr Phea said.