China and Cambodia yesterday ended their largest-ever joint military exercise “Golden Dragon 2020” held for 15 days in Kampot province’s Chum Kiri district.
Defence Minister Tea Banh and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, arrived in the morning to inspect armour and other military equipment after the end of the live-fire drills.
Speaking at a joint press conference after the closing ceremony, Gen Banh said Cambodia and China had committed to conduct the military exercise even though the world was in fear of COVID-19.
“Now most countries are locked down due to the COVID-19 but Cambodia and China still demonstrated their commitment to conduct the military exercise,” he said. “This exercise does not mean that we do not care about the outbreak of COVID-19. We care about that [virus] as well but were committed to having the exercise,” he said.
Gen Banh rejected claims by critics that China would cause trouble in the Kingdom such as bringing the virus into country and that the superpower is a threat to countries in the region.
“I wish to reject claims that China’s military will cause trouble. We [Cambodia and China] are together to tackle any issue in region,” he said. “What we are doing here is all about our cooperation and relationship. I can tell you that the Chinese military is helping our troops to build up their capacity.”
On March 15, more than three thousand soldiers descended upon a 17,000-hectare training area to kick off the Kingdom’s annual joint military exercise with China.
Wang Wentian, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, said in the joint press conference China and Cambodia have a great relationship and had committed to carry out the drill amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“The Dragon military exercise left a great and strong relationship in the history of cooperation between Cambodia and China, even though our two countries are fighting with the outbreak of COVID-19,” he said. “Even if we have a very difficult situation, our military managed to do it and done with success as expected.”
Mr Wang noted the exercise was part of Cambodia’s and China’s aim to contribute to peace and stability in the region via their friendship and cooperation.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said yesterday China and the Kingdom are close friends and no country or any problem, including COVID-19, could stop them from holding the military exercise.
“Actually Cambodia also wants to show the world that the Kingdom pursues a policy of multilateral cooperation,” he said.