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China Secretly Building Naval Port In Cambodia – Free PDF Download



What’s happening?

  • After North Korea and Pakistan, Cambodia — one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Belt and Road Initiative projects — is emerging as China’s closest ally.
  • And the US isn’t too happy. But the Beijing-Phnom Penh relationship comes at a cost for Cambodians.
  • This week, it is learnt that China is trying to build a facility at the Ream Naval Base in the south of Cambodia.
  • The Washington Post has reported the construction of a Chinese naval facility north of Ream Naval Base on the Cambodian coast.
  • According to the report, the alleged facility will be only the second of its kind after Djibouti in East Africa.

  • Beijing has carefully crafted its support in Phnom Penh by propping up Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government and directly helping him sustain power.
  • Many have speculated about Cambodia’s decision to bandwagon with China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China-Cambodia relationship

  • On BRI, the bandwagoning can also be explained by the nonexistence of historical tributary relations between Cambodia and China that brought its territory under direct threat from larger states—Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Cambodia seems to be seeking a new type of security under Beijing’s ambit that is hard to pass as a relatively weak regional power.
  • Beijing and Phnom Penh have denied the existence of plans to build a PLA naval base since 2019. But their business ties are now well established.

Big shock to USA

  • The speculation about a new Chinese military base in Ream Naval base isn’t exactly new. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cambodia and China had signed a secret agreement allowing PLA to use the naval base.
  • In 2020, satellite imagery showed the demolition of the US-funded Tactical Headquarters by Cambodia, which followed the demolition of the National Committee for Maritime Security Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) Maintenance Facility and nearby boat ramp.
  • US officials had begun speculating if the cleared space would be used for a Chinese facility and mark a full swing towards Beijing.
  • Two years later, the American fear has come true.

China’s investment in Cambodia

  • Towards the northwest of Ream Naval Base is located a city whose existence is a testimony of ties between Cambodia and China—Sihanoukville.
  • The city, approximately 29.6 km from the naval base, has Cambodia’s only deep-water port and has a large presence of Chinese nationals and businesses.
  • Between 2013 and 2017, China is said to have invested $5.3 billion in Cambodia.

  • In 2020, Cambodia’s economy stood at $25.81 billion.
  • Around 2017, around 1,20,000 tourists and 78,000 permanent residents from China arrived at Sihanoukville—a province with a total population of 1,50,000.
  • While gambling remains banned for Cambodian locals, it became the centre of attraction for the Chinese who were able to bypass all laws.
  • The southern coast of Cambodia is home to $4.2 billion worth of power plants and offshore mining companies primary owned and operated by the Chinese.
  • It was almost as if the Chinese government had outsourced gambling and drug-infused partying by its citizens to Cambodia.
  • The drug trade through Sihanoukville grew as the new money from China rolled into the Cambodian city’s streets.
  • Despite some Chinese residents of Sihanoukville returning home during the pandemic, the drug bust cases haven’t stopped.
  • On 1 June, the Cambodian police arrested four Chinese nationals for drug trafficking.


  • Relations between Cambodia and the US, however, have become strained, as Washington has criticised his authoritarian leadership, and crackdown on opposition voices.
  • After the ceremony, the US embassy in Phnom Penh warned that a Chinese “military presence at Ream could threaten Cambodia‘s autonomy and undermine regional security”.
  • It is getting very hard to hide the Chinese military base in Cambodia.
  • A Chinese official has confirmed to The Washington Post that “a portion of the base” will be used by the PLA.
  • The Indo-Pacific is now subject to intense geopolitical jockeying and tripwires are on every corner.

Q) Cambodia got independence in 1953 from which country?

  1. France
  2. Britain
  3. Japan
  4. Portugal



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