Australia wary of alleged construction of Chinese military base in Cambodia

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday described allegations that China is secretly building a military base in Cambodia as “worrying” amid growing tensions between the two countries.

“It is concerning. We are in direct contact with the Cambodian government and they have consistently assured us that no foreign army will have exclusive access (to the military base),” Albanese told reporters in the city of Makassar, in Sulawesi, South (Indonesia).

Albanese, who is in Indonesia on his first international trip after winning the elections in May 21, was referring to an article published by the American newspaper ” The Washington Post” which claims that China is secretly building a naval base in Cambodia for use by its army.

According to the article, while Western sources claim that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ) of China will exclusively use the Ream naval base, located in the province from Sihanoukville, a Chinese official confirmed to the newspaper that the Chinese army would only use “a part” of the infrastructure.

However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, today emphasized that Cambodia declared that its constitution prohibits foreign nations from building a military base in its country.

Zhao accused the United States of ignoring Cambodia’s claims and launching “malicious attacks and suspicions”. against the Cambodian authorities.

The report in the American newspaper states that there will be a ceremony at the military base next Thursday with the presence of Chinese authorities and the ambassador of the second world economy in Cambodia.

The publication adds to a series of similar information in recent years about Beijing’s alleged military plans in Cambodia, which have always been denied by both parties. China only confirmed the existence of a base outside its territory, in Djibouti.

The US has already expressed its “serious concern” about the presence of Chinese troops in this Cambodian base in June last year , during a visit to the country by Under Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman.

The Ream naval base is located in the Gulf of Thailand, a strategic location that would allow China to strengthen its control in Southeast Asian waters , whose sovereignty is disputed with several countries in the region: Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as Taiwan.

Albanese said today that the Australian government is “aware” of China’s activity in Cambodian base and that “for a long time” has been asking Beijing to give answers and be “transparent”.

The revelations come after tensions between China and Australia increased due to Beijing’s expansionism in the islands of South Pacific, an area historically under the influence of Australia and New Zealand, with which the second world’s largest economy wants to sign a multilateral trade and security agreement.

China has signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands that Australia, New Zealand and the United States fear will ultimately also intended to establish a military base there, which Beijing and Honiara, the island’s capital, deny.

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