Monday, November 30, 2020

China ‘not behind disappearance’ of second US naval facility in Cambodia

Phnom Penh has repeatedly denied secret deals to let Beijing station forces at the base.

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Satellite imagery has alerted American military analysts to what seems like the demolition of another US-funded naval facility in Cambodia.

The images showed that the Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat maintenance facility at Ream Naval Base was there on Oct 1 but had vanished by Nov 4, Reuters reports.

In response to US questioning, Cambodian military authorities said they were merely relocating the facility and called US suspicions of Chinese involvement unfounded.

This is the second time the US has suspected Chinese hands at work in developments at Ream.

Last month satellite images showed that the US-funded Cambodian Navy tactical headquarters facility at the naval base appeared to have been demolished instead of being repaired as the Pentagon had offered to do.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office claimed that the buildings were taken down and moved for renovation.

US observers said the satellite images support claims that the facilities were being relocated but they were unconvinced that the building needed renovation as it is only three years old.

Mystery now surrounds the fate of the two US-funded facilities and American suspicions of a Chinese connection have not been allayed.

Phnom Penh has repeatedly denied reports it has reached a secret deal to let Beijing station its forces at the base.

Cambodia is one of China’s closest allies in Southeast Asia and receives billions of dollars of aid from Beijing as well as political backing for strongman Hun Sen in the face of Western criticism.

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