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Golden Dragon to commence despite COVID-19 fears: Minister

Sun Mesa / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodian and Chinese soldiers side by side during last year’s Golden Dragon exercise in Kampot. KT/Khem Sovannara

Defence Minister General Tea Banh yesterday said the annual joint military exercise with China, dubbed “Golden Dragon”, will not be postponed or cancelled amid coronavirus fears.

“The Golden Dragon will start as normal,” Gen Banh said yesterday during a ceremony to hand surgical masks and protective suits to the Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian. “Other cooperation initiatives between Cambodia and China have not been postponed or cancelled.”

Gen Banh added that despite fears of an outbreak, Cambodia and China will continue to expand defence cooperation.

“We will work more actively to support development,” he said. “This exercise will support our strong relationship with China and peace and stability in the Kingdom.”

Major General Thong Solimo, spokesman for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces general command headquarters yesterday said the 4th Golden Dragon Joint-Military Excercise will be held from March 15 to 30.

Maj Gen Solimo said 2,200 military personnel from both sides will descend upon a 1,000-hectare field in Kampot province’s Chum Kiri district to participate in the exercise.

He said the Kingdom will deploy eight helicopters, 44 tanks and armoured personnel carriers and nine artillery guns.

“The 4th Golden Dragon exercise will focus on counter-terrorism capacity and humanitarian activities,” Maj Gen Solimo said. “This exercise will help strengthen our military capacity through experience sharing.”

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said Cambodia and China agreed to hold annual joint military exercises last year when both sides signed an agreement called “Action Plan for Shared Future”.

“It shows the strongest point in relations between Cambodia and China because many countries are not working with China due to outbreak fears,” he said. “It is clear that Cambodia wants to show the world that the Kingdom will not leave China alone during an outbreak.”

“By doing this, it shows that Cambodia is not under the influence of China,” he added. “It shows that China is a true friend.”

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