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China’s Naval Presence in Cambodia Sparks U.S. Concerns

China's Naval Presence in Cambodia Sparks U.S. Concerns
US Raises Concern Over China Warships' Rare Stop in Cambodia US Raises Concern Over China Warships' Rare Stop in Cambodia
China's Naval Presence in Cambodia Sparks U.S. Concerns
US Raises Concern Over China Warships' Rare Stop in Cambodia US Raises Concern Over China Warships' Rare Stop in Cambodia

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China’s Naval Presence in Cambodia Sparks U.S. Concerns

China’s defense ministry announced that two warships will be dispatched to Cambodia and East Timor from May to mid-June, raising concerns about the expanding Chinese presence in the region, particularly at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base. The vessels, including the most significant naval training ship, Qijiguang, and the amphibious warfare ship Jinggangshan, will engage in training exercises with local naval cadets to strengthen mutual trust between the navies.

The Jinggangshan, capable of transporting helicopters, armored vehicles, and troops, will be joined by the technologically advanced Qijiguang. Although China did not specify the exact location of the vessels during their stay in Cambodia and East Timor, the move is likely to heighten U.S. apprehensions about China’s increasing military footprint in the region.

The expansion of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, supported by China, has drawn criticism from the U.S., fearing it could provide Beijing with a strategic foothold near the contested South China Sea. Previously used for joint naval exercises between the U.S. and Cambodia, the base’s upgrade began in June 2022, leading to the demolition of a U.S.-built facility in October 2020.

Since December, two Chinese warships, possibly corvettes or frigates, have been stationed at Ream, prompting Cambodia’s defense ministry assurances that their presence does not signify a permanent deployment of the Chinese military. Nevertheless, the continued military cooperation between China and Cambodia, underscored by high-level meetings, including a recent gathering between Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun and Cambodian military leaders, has raised concerns among regional stakeholders.

The deployment of Chinese warships to Cambodia and East Timor reflects China’s efforts to strengthen military ties with Southeast Asian nations, potentially reshaping the geopolitical dynamics in the region. As China expands its influence through strategic partnerships and military engagements, it challenges U.S. interests and regional stability, particularly in disputed maritime territories.


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