Chinese naval vessels heralded as the first, have recently docked at a new pier within a Cambodian naval base. This development, receiving minimal attention, occurred concurrently with China's top defense official, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission He Weidong, making an official visit to Cambodia. The naval base, identified by the United States and some international security analysts as a strategic outpost for Beijing's navy, is at the center of this noteworthy event.
At least two Chinese ships were observed docking at the Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, as disclosed indirectly through a Facebook post by Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Seiha. The post indicated his visit to inspect preparations for Cambodian navy training and infrastructure construction progress at the base, without explicitly mentioning China.
In the Facebook post, Minister Tea Seiha shared photos featuring Cambodian officials alongside Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian and reviewing Chinese sailors. Notably, images displayed at least two warships, with one identified as the Chinese navy corvette Wenshan based on its gangway.
Analysis of satellite photos captured on Sunday by Planet Labs PBC, conducted by The Associated Press, corroborates the presence of two Chinese warships at the Ream Naval Base. These findings align with the visual evidence shared online by Tea Seiha.
A recent analysis by The Associated Press, comparing ship measurements and images released by Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Seiha, suggests that both vessels may be Type 56 Chinese corvettes.
The controversy surrounding the Ream Naval Base first emerged in 2019 following a report by The Wall Street Journal. According to an early draft of an alleged agreement seen by U.S. officials, China could potentially have 30-year access to the base. The reported terms would grant China the ability to station military personnel, store weapons, and berth warships at the strategic naval facility.
An analysis conducted by The Associated Press, comparing ship measurements with images released by the Cambodian Defense Minister, suggests that both vessels observed at the Ream Naval Base may be Type 56 Chinese corvettes.
The Ream Naval Base has been a source of controversy since 2019 when The Wall Street Journal reported on an early draft of an alleged agreement seen by U.S. officials. According to the report, the agreement could potentially grant China a 30-year lease on the base, providing the ability to station military personnel, store weapons, and dock warships.
Reports based on the Associated Press comparing ship measurements with images from the Cambodian Defense Minister suggest that both vessels at the Ream Naval Base could be Type 56 Chinese corvettes. The controversy surrounding the Ream Naval Base dates back to 2019 when a reported draft agreement, seen by U.S. officials, hinted at a potential 30-year lease for China. The alleged agreement would allow China to station military personnel, store weapons, and berth warships at the base.
Prime Minister Hun Manet discussed continued military cooperation with China's visiting official He. They focused on agreements for human resource training and demining operations between their defense ministries. Reflecting on his time as Cambodia's army commander, Hun Manet highlighted efforts to enhance cooperation, resulting in improved relationships and training exchanges. His initial official trip abroad as prime minister was to Beijing, highlighting the strong ties between Cambodia and China.
Image source: AP news