Cambodia, China Launch Annual ‘Golden Dragon’ Joint Military Exercise, Deepening Ties

Cambodia and China have launched their third annual joint “Golden Dragon” military exercise in grand style, drawing concerns from analysts who say the drills are generating international “suspicion” as Phnom Penh pivots from the West and increasingly towards Beijing.

The exercise, which began Wednesday after two weeks of rehearsals, will feature more than 250 Chinese and 2,500 Cambodian military personnel drilling over the course of 15 days at the Chum Kiri Military Shooting Range Training Field in Kampot province’s Chum Kiri district.

Significantly larger than last year’s joint exercise, the Golden Dragon drills are expected to include armored trucks, tanks, and helicopters, as well as artillery and mortars, and will focus on combating terrorism in addition to running rescue operations during natural disasters, before ending with a March 27 closing ceremony overseen by Defense Minister General Tea Banh.

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