Chinese Navy Deploys Vessels at New Pier in Cambodian Naval Base

December 8, 2023 | by b1og.net


Imagine witnessing a historic moment as you stand at the newly constructed pier in a Cambodian naval base. The excitement is palpable as Chinese navy ships make their way towards the dock, marking the first visit by foreign vessels. This event, however, is not without controversy. The United States and international security experts have expressed concerns that this base is set to become a strategic outpost for China’s navy, potentially altering the regional balance of power. As tensions rise in the South China Sea, this development raises questions about the future of this volatile region.

Chinese Navy Deploys Vessels at New Pier in Cambodian Naval Base

Chinese Navy Deploys Vessels at New Pier in Cambodian Naval Base

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Background Information

China has made its presence felt once again in Southeast Asia, as Chinese naval vessels have become the first ships to dock at a new pier at a Cambodian naval base. This move has raised concerns among the United States and some international security experts who fear that the base is intended to serve as a strategic outpost for Beijing’s navy. The docking of the Chinese ships coincided with an official visit to Cambodia by China’s top defense official, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission He Weidong.


Docking of Chinese Naval Vessels

The announcement of the docking of Chinese naval vessels at the new pier in the Cambodian naval base was made by Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Seiha. Although the announcement did not mention China by name, satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press confirmed the presence of two Chinese warships at the base. The identification of the docked ships suggests that they may be Type 56 Chinese corvettes.

Controversy over Ream Naval Base

Controversy surrounding the Ream Naval Base first arose in 2019 when The Wall Street Journal reported on a reputed agreement that would allow China to use the base for 30 years. Cambodia’s then-Prime Minister Hun Sen denied the existence of such an agreement, pointing out that Cambodia’s constitution does not allow foreign military bases to be established on its soil. However, concerns remain about the intentions and scope of China’s involvement at the base.

Strategic Importance of the Base

The Ream Naval Base is strategically located on the Gulf of Thailand, adjacent to the South China Sea. China’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea make this base of strategic importance for Beijing. Furthermore, the base’s proximity to the Malacca Strait, a critical shipping lane, could potentially serve as a chokepoint. The establishment of a base in Cambodia would extend China’s military reach and potentially shift the regional balance of power.

Concerns from the United States

The United States has expressed its concerns about the Chinese military presence at the Ream Naval Base. The lack of transparency surrounding the project raises questions about its intent, nature, and scope. Washington worries that China’s presence at the base could threaten the autonomy of Cambodia and undermine regional security. The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh has reiterated its concerns about the project and the role of the Chinese military in its construction.

China’s Investment and Political Partnership with Cambodia

China’s investment and political partnership with Cambodia have strengthened their bilateral relationship. China has become Cambodia’s largest investor and closest political partner. Beijing’s support allows Cambodia to brush off Western concerns regarding human rights and political issues. In return, Cambodia generally supports China’s geopolitical positions, including its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Military Cooperation between China and Cambodia

China and Cambodia have been engaging in discussions on military cooperation. Their defense ministries have signed agreements to collaborate on human resource training and demining operations. The strengthening of military ties between the two countries, including unit-to-unit relationships and training exchanges, enhances the capabilities of the Cambodian armed forces.


Prime Minister Hun Manet’s Visit to Beijing

Prime Minister Hun Manet, who succeeded his father Hun Sen, has continued the warm relations between Cambodia and China. During his visit to Beijing, the prime minister discussed the continuation of military cooperation with China’s defense officials. He emphasized the importance of the memorandum of understanding signed between their defense ministries, which has led to improved relationships and training exchanges within the Cambodian army.

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International Reactions

The deployment of Chinese naval vessels at the Ream Naval Base has attracted international attention. Some countries in the region, such as the United States, have expressed concerns about the project’s lack of transparency and potential impact on regional security. The United States, in particular, has been vocal about its worries regarding China’s military presence in Cambodia.


The docking of Chinese naval vessels at the Ream Naval Base in Cambodia has sparked controversy and raised concerns among the United States and other stakeholders. The strategic importance of the base, coupled with China’s investment and political partnership with Cambodia, has significant implications for regional security and the balance of power in Southeast Asia. As China extends its military reach through military cooperation and the establishment of a base in Cambodia, it will be essential to closely monitor future developments and the responses from the United States and other key players in the region.

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