PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Three Chinese warships arrived in Cambodia on Wednesday on a visit aimed at strengthening already close ties between the two nations.
Cambodian Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Chhum Socheat said the ships carrying nearly 700 crew members docked at the port of Sihanoukville on the country’s southern coast. He said a total of 17 warships from China have visited Cambodia in recent years.
In 2016, Cambodia hosted its first major naval and ground joint exercises with Chinese forces.
Cambodia has grown increasingly close to China in recent years as the government of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen has become estranged from the United States, which is critical of his authoritarian rule.
China is Cambodia’s most important political and economic ally. It has provided millions of dollars in aid and investment over the past decade, agreed to write off debts and granted Cambodia tariff-free status for hundreds of items.
Cambodia in turn has demonstrated its willingness to do Beijing’s bidding in diplomatic initiatives in the region, especially regarding Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.
FRESH NEWS says:
Phnom Penh (FN), Jn. 9 – Chinese Deputy Chief of the Northern Sea Fleet General Xu Hai Han led 695 delegates to Cambodia’s southwest coast Sihanoukville on Wednesday morning to pay a four-day visit from 9-12 January 2019.
The visit aims to strengthen relations and cooperation with the Cambodian navy, according to General Chhum Socheat, Under Secretary of State and Spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense.
“The visit of the Chinese navy’s delegation cements friendship and strengthens cooperation between the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and the People’s Liberation Army,” he added.
During the visit, a delegation led by Lieutenant General Xu Hai Han will pay a courtesy call to Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong; Governor of Sihnoukville Yun Min; Commander Ream Naval Base Uk Seiha, RCAF Navy Commander Tea Vinh; RCAF Commander in Chief General Vong Pisen, and Minister of Defense Tea Banh.
Socheat said that the delegation will also visit the Naga World, Royal Palace, National Museum, Wat Phnom tourism site and many more.
He added that this is the first time ever in 2019 that the Chinese navy delegation visited Cambodia and ninth visit in history. So far, 17 Chinese naval fleets have docked at Cambodia’s ports.