Senior US Official Warns of Chinese Military Presence in Cambodia, Calls for Democratic Reform

Cambodia's prime minister said he “doesn’t allow foreign military bases regardless of whether it’s for naval forces, infantry forces, or air forces.”

Phnom Penh – US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Joseph H. Felter wrapped up his official trip to Cambodia this week by warning of China’s military presence in Cambodia and calling for democratic reform.

During the two-day visit, Felter met with General Neang Phat, secretary of state at Ministry of National Defense, and discussed military cooperation and regional security. He also met with Ouk Seiha, the deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy, in Sihanoukville.

In an interview with VOA Khmer on Wednesday, Felter said military ties between the two countries would be unlikely to improve unless Cambodia has “a national reconciliation” including the release of opposition leader Kem Sokha, who was jailed on treason charges shortly before the party was disbanded in November 2017. Sokha was later placed under house arrest and is still awaiting trial.

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