February 3, 2023

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The Chinese Navy’s Great Leap Forward

2 min read

Cambodian navy crew stand on a patrol boat at the Ream Naval Base in Sihanoukville, southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 26, 2019.


Heng Sinith/Associated Press

First by stealth, then by degrees, and now by great leaps, China is building a blue water navy and a network of bases to extend its military and political influence. A new secret Chinese military base in Cambodia ought to wake up America’s political class—including the U.S. Navy brass—to what is fast becoming a global Chinese challenge.

The Washington Post on Monday cites Western officials about the facility under construction at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand. The Journal reported in 2019 that Cambodia and China had secretly agreed to let the Chinese military use a naval base in the Southeast Asian nation. China and Cambodia denied it at the time.

But now China is building a naval facility for its exclusive use “and taking extraordinary measures to conceal the operation,” according to the Post.

The Cambodian government is denying the latest report, and that’s no surprise. The Cambodian constitution bans foreign military bases inside the country’s borders, and the presence of the Chinese forces could stir a nationalist backlash. China’s naval base also won’t please Cambodia’s Southeast Asian neighbors, including Thailand, which has been a major non-NATO ally of the U.S. since 2003, and Vietnam, which has had a tense relationship with China.

Beijing has a long…

2022-06-07 18:43:00

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