Cambodia agrees to give access to armed Chinese forces at its naval base: Report
KONFRONTASI - US media have reported a secret agreement between Cambodia and China giving the latter’s armed forces access to a Cambodian naval base.
A Wall Street Journal report on Sunday claimed the secret agreement gave China exclusive access to part of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base in the Gulf of Thailand.
The report added that the agreement, which both Chinese and Cambodian officials refuted, would enhance the ability of the Chinese military to assert its contested territorial claims and economic interests in the South China Sea.
The US State Department claimed such an agreement between the Cambodian government and China would lead to instability in Southeast Asia. “We are concerned that any steps by the Cambodian government to invite a foreign military presence in Cambodia would threaten the coherence and centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in coordinating regional developments, and disturb peace and stability in Southeast Asia,” read a statement by the US State Department.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have repeatedly cited foreign interference, in particular provocations by the US, as a major source of unrest and instability in the region.
China, which claims most of the South China Sea as its own, says it is entitled to take defensive measures for its sovereign territory.
Beijing, which guarantees freedom of navigation in international waters near China, insists that the US and British vessels present in the region cause tensions.[ptv]