China handed over a batch of military equipment to the Ministry of Defense on Saturday that officials said they would use strictly for training, including spare parts and trucks mounted with rocket launchers.
As Cambodia’s most generous military aid donor—as well as its biggest investor—China made the handover at a ceremony in Kompong Speu province at the Army Institute, itself the product of Beijing’s largesse, according to a recent Reuters report.
“The receipt of the special military material today from China’s Defense Ministry is another historic achievement among the assistance that the Chinese government has provided Cambodia’s Defense Ministry,” Lieutenant General Chao Phirun, who heads the ministry’s materials and technical services department, said at the ceremony.
“For the assistance received this time, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces will use it for training to strengthen the military sector,” he said.
Defense Minister Tea Banh was also on hand to inspect the donations, along with China’s ambassador to Cambodia, Bu Jianguo.
The package comprises 44 vehicles, including jeeps, rocket-launcher mounted trucks and at least a half-dozen anti-aircraft guns mounted on wheels. The inventory also includes 20 forklifts, four mobile kitchens, some 2,000 kg of unspecified chemicals and 10,000 kg worth of spare parts. A 500-square-meter training center was also on the list.
Lt. Gen. Phirun said the items would be used specifically to train three of RCAF’s special forces units to, among other things, go after illegal fishermen and cross-border traffickers. He did not specify which units would benefit.
Defense Ministry officials on Sunday either declined to elaborate on the latest donations or could not be reached. Chinese Embassy spokesman Cheng Hong Bo referred questions to secretary of the embassy’s military attache, who said he was not authorized to speak with the media.
China makes regular donations of equipment to Cambodia, including at least 20 trucks to the army last year and $300,000 with which the Interior Ministry pledged to buy supplies for its police forces from China.
Critics have questioned the cost of Cambodia’s growing military ties to China, including its support for Beijing in its disputes over the South China Sea.