China and Cambodia break ground at naval base in show of ‘iron-clad’ relations

Officials from China and Cambodia broke ground on a controversial, Chinese-funded upgrade of a naval base in southern Cambodia on Wednesday, with Beijing’s envoy in the country calling military cooperation part of the countries’ “iron-clad partnership.”

The launch of the project at the Ream Naval Base, which Cambodian officials said will use grant aid from China to renovate the port, comes amid Western concern that Beijing is seeking a military outpost at the Gulf of Thailand facility.

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh dismissed such claims, stressing during the ceremony that the project is in line with Cambodia’s constitution, which bars foreign military bases on its territory, and that the Southeast Asian nation is open to development assistance from other countries.

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