Chinese expansion thrives where democracy undermined

Beijing calculates there is a lack of political will, both in Southeast Asia and globally, to resist its aims.

Western acknowledgement of the reality of China’s military presence in Cambodia highlights the ease with which such facilities can be established in the absence of strong, democratically accountable institutions.

The agreement to allow the Chinese to build a naval base in Cambodia was reported by The Wall Street Journal back in 2019. This was met by predictable denials by the government of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country since 1985.

The Washington Post reported on June 6 this year that Western officials now acknowledge that China is indeed building a naval facility in Cambodia for the exclusive use of its military. The officials told the newspaper that the base, in the northern section of Cambodia’s Ream naval base on the Gulf of Thailand, is part of China’s strategy to build a global network of military facilities.

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