Cambodia denies China making use of naval base

A Cambodian defense official denies that a strategic naval base in the country's south is being given over to the Chinese military. This follows a US report that two Chinese warships have been docked at the port since December.

The analysis on the Ream Naval Base was released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies last month. It says the Chinese corvettes are the only ships that have docked at a new pier built with funding from Beijing. Washington has become increasingly concerned over the Chinese presence at the base.

The Cambodian defense ministry spokesperson said on social media the facility is not a Chinese military base. He said the Chinese ships are preparing to take part in a joint drill with the Cambodian navy later this month.

The Ream Naval Base is located near the South China Sea, where Beijing and several Southeast Asian nations are locked in territorial disputes. The base has undergone expansion with help from China.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that Cambodia had secretly concluded an agreement allowing China's military to use the base in return for assistance.