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Officials double down on Ream Naval Base agreement denial

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
General Chhum Sucheat speaks at a press conference yesterday. KT/Tep Sony

Government officials are doubling down on their denial of a media report stating that Cambodia has entered into a secret deal with China to have the latter use the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk Province.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said during a press conference in Phnom Penh that the government will not allow foreign forces to be stationed within the Kingdom’s territory.

“The accusation that Cambodia has entered a secret agreement with China is baseless and very shameful,” Mr Siphan said. “The Royal Government of Cambodia and the Cambodian people cannot accept this distorted information about Cambodia, which is politically motivated.”

He noted that Cambodia does not want to increase tension between China and the US.

“Cambodia’s stance is to not contribute to the tension between any countries,” Mr Siphan said. “We are focusing on maintaining and strengthening peace.”

According to The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, US and allied officials said China is aiming to project its military power around the world.

“The pact–signed this spring but not disclosed by either side–gives China exclusive rights to part of a Cambodian naval installation on the Gulf of Thailand, not far from a large airport now being constructed by a Chinese company,” the Journal said in its report.

“Some details of the final deal were unclear, the officials said, but an early draft, seen by US officials, would allow China to use the base for 30 years, with automatic renewals every 10 years after that. China would be able to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships, according to the draft,” it added.

On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a statement that the allegations were unfounded.

“It’s the worst distorted news aimed at us. No such thing ever happens. A foreign military base would violate Cambodia’s constitution,” Mr Hun Sen said. “We’ve never discussed such an issue with Chinese leaders, so there is no need to say an agreement was reached. It’s time to stop using distorted news about China’s military presence in Cambodia.”

An Sokkhoeurn, director general of the general department of Europe, America and Africa-Middle East, yesterday said foreign media should stop reporting fake news about the agreement.

“Cambodia has reaffirmed that the information was fabricated and goes against Cambodia,” Mr Sokkhoeurn said. “There is no agreement or discussions on the issue because it’s contrary to the spirit of Cambodia’s constitution.”

“Cambodia has no reason to have foreign military presence in its territory,” he added. “We hope they will stop using that fake news regarding the presence of foreign military [forces] in Cambodia’s territory.”

General Chhum Sucheat, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said the allegations made by the Journal was intended to damage the country’s prestige.

“I strongly deny the information claiming that Cambodia has a foreign military station within its territory,” Gen Sucheat said. “This is fake news fabricated out of incitement and aimed at damaging prestige, integrity, independence and Cambodia’s territorial sovereignty.”

He noted that Cambodia has the ability to protect its own sovereignty.

“We don’t have any foreign military [forces] stationed in the territory of Cambodia because our Royal Cambodian Armed Forces has the capacity to protect our motherland and her people,” Gen Sucheat said.

Government Spokesman Unit held a press conference about Chinese military in Kingdom

“The US fabricated news through bias and created media propaganda in the past,” Mr Phay Siphan said. “It’s fake news.”

Posted by Khmer Times on Thursday, 25 July 2019

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