Cambodia sticks by China as it shuts out West over coronavirus

Hun Sen lets Chinese soldiers in for drills but bans travelers from US and Europe.

Cambodia will on Tuesday close its borders to foreign nationals traveling from five Western nations and Iran, after recording its 12th case of COVID-19, but at the same time it has proceeded with military drills involving hundreds of Chinese soldiers.

Prime Minister Hun Sen had previously downplayed the danger of the new coronavirus — at one point berating journalists for wearing masks at a news conference. But he has reversed course by temporarily closing public and private schools and banning travel from the six countries, including the U.S., for 30 days.

These precautions, however, did not extend to the gathering of more than 3,000 troops, 265 of whom were from China, that began on Sunday. Featuring heavy weapons, tanks and helicopters, the drills are the fourth iteration of the “Golden Dragon” exercises and run until April 1. The annual training event has grown as Cambodia’s longtime leader has moved closer into Beijing’s orbit while facing censure from Europe and the U.S. over his human rights track record.

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