The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report on October 2 detailing the apparent demolition of a US-funded and constructed naval facility at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base. The base, which opens on to the Gulf of Thailand, is the Cambodian Royal Navy’s largest.
The demolition, exposed in satellite imagery in the ATMI report, comes after Cambodia refused Washington’s offer to repair the US-funded facilities after previously requesting and receiving assistance, most recently in April 2019. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government later informed the US that it no longer required the funding.
It also comes amid reports that China has secured a 30-year lease of the base, which if true would potentially give China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy a new southern flank in the South China Sea disputes and improve its ability to respond to potential contingencies in the Strait of Malacca, through which an estimated 80% of China’s fuel imports travel. The Cambodian government has denied the reports.