INTERNATIONAL – Cambodia and China have struck an agreement for the increase of purchases within the arms trade. China has agreed to invest $290 million to expand its military presence in Cambodia.
The MOU signed, will give China access to the Cambodian naval base, and the rights to the infrastructure investment of a base located on the Gulf of Thailand.
According to documents obtained by the US government, the agreement stipulates that China would be able to use the base for 30 years, and be able to deploy "military personnel, store weapons, and berth warships," a move that is likely to increase the US fears over China’s influence of the South China Sea. Although the US fears that China is using the South China Sea as a naval base, China has denied the claims.
As China has a territorial right to the China-South Sea, and the right to invest in Cambodia, the US appears threatened by China’s growing influence, amid the ‘One Belt, One Road’ policy. Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, has denied the claims, stating, "this is the worst ever false news against Cambodia. No such thing could happen because hosting foreign military bases is against the Cambodian constitution."
A meeting held at the Pacific Islands Forums today, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, stated that Australia would donate $280million in the effort to fight against climate change and "disaster resilience in the Pacific." Some have suggested that Morrison was coerced into spending the Australian government funds, by the US, to prevent Beijing from taking over the South China Sea.
Over the past two years, China has invested more than $400 million for infrastructure and growth in Cambodia. Cambodia is a signatory of the Belt and Road Initiative and reaps the benefits of economic development as a result.