Chinese Trucks Arrive; Replace Those Denied by US

The last of 257 military vehicles donated by China was unloaded in Preah Sihanouk City on Friday, the Defense Ministry said yesterday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Nam­hong announced the shipment in early May, less than two months after the US suspended a delivery of 200 military vehicles as a punitive measure for the government’s deportation of asylum seekers to China.

Lieutenant General Chhum Su­cheat, spokesman for the De­fense Ministry, said the consignment included 20 military ambulances, 30 jeeps and 207 trucks, some of them capable of transporting tanks.

He said the Chinese ship Da Dan Xia had docked Wednesday in Preah Sihanouk province and that a team of seven Chinese engineers spent Saturday and yesterday training military personnel in how to operate and repair the vehicles.

The vehicles were to arrive in Phnom Penh by Tuesday, Lt Gen Sucheat added, with an official handover ceremony to be presi­ded over on Wednesday by De­fense Ministry Secretary of State General Moeung Samphon and an official from the Chinese De­fense Ministry’s equipment department.

In early May, Mr Namhong said the shipment was part of a $14.7 million military aid package that Prime Minister Hun Sen secured during a recent trip to Shanghai.

The deal followed the US State Department’s decision in March to halt the delivery of 200 military vehicles to Cambodia in response to the government’s deportation of 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers back to China in December before their refugee claims could be processed. Government officials defended the deportation as legal.

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