A senior member of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Wednesday pledged more military aid for Cambodia as well as gifts of a less lethal nature: musical instruments for next month’s cremation ceremony of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Cambodian Defense Minister General Tea Banh said the agreement was signed between PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff Qi Jianguo and Cambodian Defense Ministry Secretary of State Moeung Samphan during a meeting in Phnom Penh.
“We signed an agreement today after Cambodia asked China to help by providing musical instruments for the cremation ceremony of the dead King,” said Gen. Banh, speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, which was also attended by Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue.
As part of the deal, China agreed to further cooperation with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) by providing more military training and equipment.
“Cambodia still lacks military materials and equipment to prevent some offenses, thus, the [Chinese] government agreed to provide these military materials and equipment to our troops,” Gen. Banh said.
China is shortly expected to deliver 12 Chinese-made Z-9 multi-use military helicopters to Cambodia. The Z-9—which can be fitted with weapons—is built under license by China’s Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation and is based on the French-made Eurocopter Dauphin helicopter.
Gen. Banh said the cost of the helicopters—which will replace an aging fleet of Russian-made aircraft—was more than $190 million, and had been partly paid for by a Chinese loan signed off on in August 2011.
“These helicopters are not for the military, but we are able to use them…when the offense happens in a remote area,” Gen. Banh said.
Mr. Qi—a member of the 205-member Central Committee of the Communist Party of China—also met with RCAF Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun, according to China’s state-run news agency Xinhua. Today, Mr. Qi will attend a graduation ceremony of a batch of Chinese-trained Cambodian infantrymen, alongside Prime Minister Hun Sen.
(Additional reporting by Simon Lewis)