According to The Washington Post report, citing Western officials, China is constructing a naval base for its military in Cambodia, with both Beijing and Phnom Penh going to great lengths to conceal the operation.
According to a Western official speaking on condition of anonymity, the facility, which will occupy a portion of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, will be only China’s second foreign outpost after the opening of a base in the East African nation of Djibouti in 2017.
The base is said to be located west of the South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial claims with several countries. According to sources, it will be able to house large naval vessels.
The leadership in Beijing sees “the Indo-Pacific as China’s rightful and historic sphere of influence”, one official was quoted as saying.
“They view China’s rise there as part of a global trend toward a multipolar world where major powers more forcefully assert their interests in their perceived sphere of influence.
“Essentially, China wants to become so powerful that the region will give in to China’s leadership rather than face the consequences,” the source added, RT reported.
The Ream Naval Base groundbreaking ceremony will take place on Thursday, according to the Post, with sources claiming that Beijing will confirm its involvement in the expansion of the Cambodian facility during the event, but will remain silent about plans for it to be used by the Chinese military.
According to a second official, the deal to build new structures at the base was finalised in 2020, with the Chinese military having “exclusive use of the northern portion of the base, while their presence would remain concealed.”