China Completes Sale of 12 Military Helicopters

Beijing officially completed its sale of 12 Chinese-built Z-9 military helicopters to Cambodia’s government—paid for by a nearly $200-million loan from China—during a ceremony Monday at the Pochentong Air Force headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Defense Minister Tea Banh, who last week visited Beijing, said at the ceremony that the transaction was a historical achievement that would allow Cambodia’s government to deal more effectively with disasters and fend off “criminals.”

“The handing over of the 12 helicopters today is another new historical achievement among other achievements that the Chinese government has done to support Cambodia in an attempt to strengthen the capacity of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces,” Mr. Banh said.

“Regarding the benefits of the 12 helicopters, they can help increase the capacity and efficacy of [the Air Force] and help mitigate other issues” Mr. Banh said of the Z-9s, which will replace an aging fleet of Russian-made Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters.

“Even though they are not big… they will help improve the effectiveness of curbing criminal acts that cause disasters and violate our sovereignty or our law,” he added.

Air Force commander Lieutenant General Soeung Samnang thanked the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) for the helicopters and the training to operate them.

“I hope that CATIC will maintain even better cooperation with the Cambodian Air Force,” Lt. Gen. Samnang said.

Chinese Ambassador Bo Jianguo, who presided over the ceremony with Mr. Banh, expressed China’s “warm exaltations” over the sale of helicopters to Cambodia, adding that China would continue to expand its investments in Cambodia.

“China will continue supporting Cambodia to improve the economy and livelihoods and reduce poverty and support chances for companies to invest in Cambodia and help Cambodia to improve its capacity,” said Ambassador Jianguo.

In 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen and then-Chinese Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang signed an agreement saying Cambodia would buy the helicopters with a $195.5 million loan from China.

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