Defence Minister General Tea Banh yesterday slammed Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s news report about a high-level delegation of Chinese military mapping experts visiting a Cambodian naval base in December, three weeks before a huge Chinese surveillance drone crashed in Koh Kong province.
Yesterday, ABC quoted a leaked document which said a six-member military delegation headed by Major General Song Ming Wu, deputy director of the People’s Liberation Army’s Information Engineering University would visit Cambodia from December 20 to 24.
“The document obtained by ABC outlines close cooperation between the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces) and China’s People’s Liberation Army, some of which have been kept out of the public eye,” the report said.
According to the report, the schedule suggested visits to “investigate Ream base”, the islands of Koh Takiev, which is home to a small naval outpost and Koh Poulu Wai, the site of the 1975 Mayaguez Incident where the Khmer Rouge captured a US merchant vessel and sparked a rescue that is considered the last battle of the Vietnam War.
It added that the PLA delegation also planned to meet with 20 Cambodian milltary personnel who recently completed a six-month “surveying, mapping and navigation training class” in China, before finishing the trip with a look at “satellite navigation and positioning reference station” in Siam Reap province.
Gen Banh yesterday admonished the report as fake news and denied that such a visit took place.
“There was no secret visit of a Chinese military delegation to Cambodia in late December,” he said.
“I don’t care about that news report because they [the Western media] want to damage the good cooperation, integrity and relationship between Cambodia and China.”
Gen Banh reiterated that Cambodia’s constitution does not allow the Kingdom to have a foreign military base in its territory.
Last year Prime Minister Hun Sen called for a stop to spread fake news about a Chinese military base in Cambodia.
“It is the worst news distortion aimed at us. No such thing will ever happen. [Having] a foreign military base will violate Cambodia’s constitution,” he 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.”
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said yesterday he wonders why the western media keeps disseminating such news without any evidence.
“I have noted the repeated dissemination of information about a Chinese military base in Cambodia. It is aimed at damaging Cambodia’s integrity on the international stage and ruining the good relationship enjoyed between Cambodia and China,” he said.
Mr Phea said that Cambodia just wants to be an independent and sovereign state.
“From what I have seen, Cambodia’s foreign policy tries to balance relations between the super power [the US] and regional power [China] to keep the Kingdom safe, peaceful and stable,” he added.