Last month, Asia Times, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, reported that China has lobbied Cambodia for a naval base in Koh Kong province on the Gulf of Thailand, prompting the Cambodian government to deny the news.
A Chinese naval base in Koh Kong or in any coastal area inside Cambodia would greatly damage the current state of excellent Asean-China ties and jeopardise China’s many regional and global schemes, including its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Bilaterally, it would also increase tensions with Cambodia’s neighbours, especially Vietnam and Thailand. In the long run, it would increase the great powers’ competition in the region and further endanger the strategic balance that has been in force since the end of World War II. After all, Southeast Asia remains stable and prosperous because there has not been any dramatic shift of great power relations as in other regions.