U.S. & Australia Upset Over China’s Military Base In Cambodia – The West’s Attempt To Control The Red Dragon Backfires

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Jun 10 2022
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Officially, China is helping Cambodia to expand its naval base in Ream, the country’s biggest naval base. On Wednesday (June 8), officials from both countries attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the port. When completed in 2 years, the port will include a maintenance workshop, two piers, a dry dock, slipway, and sand dredging for bigger ships to dock.


Unofficially, however, the Ream Naval Base could be the Chinese second overseas military base in the world (its first naval facility is in the East African country of Djibouti set up in 2017), and China’s first outpost in the Indo-Pacific region. Located strategically near the southern tip of Cambodia close to the South China Sea, clearly the base would serve as a vital military asset for Beijing.


Despite denials from China and Cambodia, it’s hard to believe the upgrade of Ream isn’t for the use of the Chinese Navy at all. After all, the expansion and modernization of the base is funded by Beijing. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and China is definitely not a charity house. They probably deny it, for now, because Cambodia’s constitution prohibits foreign military facilities.

Cambodia Ream Naval Base

The Cambodian defence minister, Tea Banh, has played down the significance of the renovation of Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, saying it was very small and “won’t pose a threat to anyone, anywhere”. Likewise, the Cambodian Embassy in Washington called it baseless accusation that the country has permitted foreign military bases on Cambodian soil.


On the other hand, China’s ambassador to Cambodia, Wang Wentian, said – “It is not targeted at any third party, and will be conducive to even closer practical cooperation between the two militaries, better fulfilment of international obligations and provision of international public goods”. However, at the same time, he said that China and Cambodia have become iron-clad brothers.


It’s an open secret that China has been seeking a military base in Cambodia as part of its “string of pearls” grand strategy in the region. As early as 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that China had signed a secret agreement to allow its military to use a Cambodian  base for 30 years – with automatic renewals every 10 years. Of course, the report was rubbished as “fake news” by Cambodia.

Cambodia Ream Naval Base - Military Vessels

According to the old draft proposal, China would build two new piers – one for Chinese use, one for Cambodian – at the 190-acre Ream Naval Base. Dredging would be done so that the base can host larger Chinese warships. China’s personnel will be allowed to carry weapons and Cambodian passports, while Cambodians must get Chinese permission to enter the 62-acre Chinese section of Ream.


Everything started after the U.S.-Cambodia bad blood began in 2010, just 3 years after the U.S. Congress lifted its prohibition on assistance to the Cambodian government. In 2010, Washington suspended the delivery of military vehicles following Phnom Penh’s deportation of Uighur asylum seekers. Beijing saw the opportunity and stepped in to provide 257 trucks and 50,000 uniforms.


America was actually terribly upset after China’s state-controlled Union Development Group secured in 2008 a 99-year lease on Dara Sakor, a huge territory that includes 20% of Cambodia’s coastline. Just 40 miles northwest of Ream, the Chinese development of the 2-mile-long runway at Dara is so massive that it could be used for Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s.

Cambodia - Ream Naval Base and Dara Sakor Airport - Map

Essentially, China’s long-range bombers and other military transports and aircrafts can also use it. Crucially, from Dara Sakor, Chinese military would be able to strike U.S. military interests in Vietnam and Singapore as well as other targets in the Southeast Asia. In November 2018, the diplomatic frictions between PM Hun Sen and U.S. Vice President Michael Pence went from bad to worse.


Cambodia wanted the U.S. facilities at Ream to be “relocated” elsewhere to make way for China. Not only Washington tried to persuade Phnom Penh to reverse its decision, it also had lobbied Cambodia not to allow China’s military to use the large new airport built at Dara Sakor. The best part was that two facilities at Ream were actually built with U.S. funding.


Despite America’s aggressive lobbying, including an offer to pay for the renovation of Ream Naval Base, Cambodia had instead demolished a U.S.-Australia-funded headquarters building in 2020. It did not even bother to reply to the Pentagon’s request for an explanation why it rejected an offer to repair or renovate American-built boat maintenance facilities at Ream.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman

The U.S. was so mad that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was sent to Cambodia 2021 to seek clarification. However, she arrogantly lectured Cambodia about its human rights record, and declared that a Chinese military base in Cambodia would undermine its sovereignty, threaten regional security, and negatively impact U.S.-Cambodia relations.


Less than two weeks later, the U.S. embassy complained it had been denied full access to inspect the Ream base. America then retaliated with sanctions against some Cambodian leaders, including the Chief of Navy. By then, all hell broke loose and the damage has been done. Washington realized that it had lost, and Cambodia has selected Beijing to develop the military base.


But the U.S. was not going down without a fight. It accused the Cambodian government of “secretly” allowing Ream Naval Base to be built for the “exclusive” use of the Chinese Navy. It has also condemned the lack of transparency about China’s involvement in the facility. Essentially, Washington’s arrogance was the reason they lost Ream and Dara Sakor to China.

Cambodia Ream Naval Base - Guards

It was hilarious that the U.S. has accused Cambodia of breaching its constitution by allowing China to establish a military outpost in the country, when the U.S. itself wanted to do the same thing. And it certainly screams hypocrisy after the U.S. warned that the Chinese military presence in Cambodia would disturb regional peace and stability, when the same U.S. has over 800 military bases around the globe.


Exactly why China cannot have two military bases, but the U.S. can have more than 800 military bases? Did the U.S. practise transparency before it established those 800 foreign military bases? Unless it’s an admission that America is fast losing its status as the world’s military superpower, it should not be overly terrified of the Chinese presence in Cambodia.


In truth, like Saudi Arabia, relations between Cambodia and the U.S. have gone sour as Washington has been constantly criticizing the authoritarian leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen. You can’t keep slamming the government over the lack of human rights and at the same time expect it to obey your orders. Besides, Beijing has splashed billions of dollars in infrastructure loans in Cambodia.

Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen with China President Xi Jinping

However, the paranoia displayed by the U.S. over the involvement of China in the upgrade of Ream Naval Base also suggests that the Americans are more worried about maintaining its own dominance rather than the rising of the Chinese influence. Since the World War 2, the U.S. had never seen any serious competition – not even the former Soviet Union – till the emergence of China.


The extreme fear of losing to China saw former President Donald Trump started trade war, followed by tech war, with Beijing. The anti-Chinese sentiment was so bad that it has even transformed into anti-Asian violence and racism within the United States itself after Trump, in an attempt to cover-up his mishandling of Covid-19 pandemic, took the easy way out by blaming the Chinese.


But after “Sleepy Joe” took over the White House, instead of engaging in diplomacy. The U.S. president decided to double down and fight with every country that does not kowtow to the U.S. and refuses to subscribe to the American version of democracy. So, the genius Joe Biden provoked Ukraine to fight with Russia and is trying to use Taiwan to start a similar proxy war with China.

US President Joe Biden

In the same breath, Washington tries to block all Chinese economic activities and private investment in Cambodia. Every engagement between China and Cambodia is being viewed suspiciously. Anything that Cambodia does with China is being seen by the U.S. as harmful, so much so that Washington had to lecture Phnom Penh about national interest, sovereignty and regional security.


Washington was worried that Beijing’s involvement in the Ream Naval Base would further cement China’s grip on a country, leading to increasing challenges Washington would face for economic and military influence across the developing world. The U.S. knew Cambodia isn’t the only country that China is pursuing military facilities to support its naval, ground and air force projection.


Besides Cambodia, China has been looking at Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates to establish a global network which could both interfere with U.S. military operations and support offensive operations. There was concern that ground station technology for a BeiDou Navigation Satellite System could be stationed in Cambodia.

China Warships Dock At Cambodia

The homegrown Chinese navigation network, completed in June 2020 and was designed to rival the GPS run by the U.S. Air Force, is said to be more powerful – and risky – because it is a two-way communication system. Formally initiated in 1994, the BeiDou project has raised serious security concerns as it can track users and even used in cyberattacks.


However, the U.S. has no one to blame but itself in forcing China to aggressively establish military base in Cambodia and elsewhere to protect its own interest. Biden administration has deliberately created AUKUS, the latest trilateral military alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, in order to threaten and undermine China.


At the same time, the U.S. has encouraged the QUAD Alliance, a military pact comprising the U.S., Australia, Japan and India, to cripple the Chinese rising influence. The real objective of QUAD was revealed in a 2019 speech by the then-US Secretary of State – Michael Pompeo – who described the group’s role as “ensuring that China retains only its proper place in the world”.

Five Eyes - New Zealand, Canada, United States, Australia, United Kingdom

So, not only the U.S. used the “Five Eyes”, an intelligence-sharing arrangement among a group of five English speaking countries – U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain – to attack China and its Huawei technology, it also mobilized “QUAD Alliance” and even created a new military alliance called “AUKUS” to control China by chaining the red dragon.


Australia, the United States’ “deputy sheriff” in the Asia-Pacific region, has described reports China is secretly building a naval facility in Cambodia as “concerning”. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said – “This is concerning. We are in regular contact with the Cambodian government and we have been consistently assured that no foreign military will be granted exclusive access.”


Perhaps Canberra can explain why Cambodia cannot grant access to foreign military like China, but countries like Singapore, Philippines and Thailand can grant access to American military forces. It doesn’t make sense that the Chinese presence in Cambodia would undermine its sovereignty and threaten regional security, while American presence would instead bring prosperity and stability.

US Throwing Rocks Poking China Dragon

With Western powers ganging up against Beijing, do you expect the Chinese to bend over, let its military capability deteriorates and pretend China is another colony of the West? More importantly, who gives the U.S. and Australia the power to dictate what the Kingdom of Cambodia can or cannot do? It was the U.S. hostility against authoritarian countries that China-Cambodia is working together today.


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Nice and accurate analysis of US’ fear about China. I wouldn’t call QUAD a military pack though. It’s more a social club with no teeth. And India will not always follow US’ instructions.

1. Al-Qaeda threatens attacks in India; Indian security forces on high alert / World News / WION / Jun 8, 2022 === > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaKWE1Kllc0


a. Presently, Ukraine is at war with Russia, All the western and European countries are involved in supporting Ukraine to subdue Russia. The war is on going.

b. United States is intimidating and provoking and is on a collision course with China.

c. Now we have the Talibans’ threatening to attack India over some religious issues.

Three world superpowers seem to be now – 2 under treat and 1 at war. With the western superpowers
involved, it looks like a global war is in the making.

World War 1 and 2 started in Europe. History seem to be repeating, only this time in 21st century, this countries are Nuclear Armed and they will not hesitate to protect their interest.

So, why is this being instigated ?

After WW2 the superpowers were cautious when dealing with one another, but after the Covid-19 pandemic, these caution has been thrown out the window. Independent and dependent, strength and weakness etc etc etc, has been revealed.

Asean may need to look into taking the lead role in the world’s arena and try and become the solution provider, de-escalate the world’s problems, should not be allowed to be dictated by or allowed to become part of the problem.

Hopefully, there may be still hope, otherwise ………..


US is angry? Wow! Errr..how many bases
does the US have all over the world?
Such a spoilt colonial brat!

Oh dear! Ketuanan Cina is getting more and more scary by the day..!

The West should indeed be scared of the Chinese being involved in the Cambodian port project, and, certainly, there’s all the chance the Chinese will use the port for military purpose. And why not? Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, all have US military bases, it’s Cambodia’s absolute right as a sovereign nation to host anybody they want to. Further, the US drove Cambodia into the arms of China, and favouring China to develop their naval facilities is Cambodia’s middle finger to the US. And well-deserved too!

The West sure won’t say no to its proxy stooges in the “opposition” in Malaisesia handing over our country to them either. Our grovelling monkeys won’t mind being treated like Singapore which long had a Yank military base but still not get invited to that “democracy conférence” by Sleepy Joe. The lives of the stooges ain’t all that great as the US is on its last leg to oblivion.

Why is the West so insecure about China setting up its response to Western threats? Considering the Yanks have all sorts of alliés with their Five Eyes, Aukus, Quad, etc and even NATO, being “North Atlantic” wants to come all the way here to fight wars, wtf? The murderous invasion and causing immense suffering on Afghanistan and Iraq were evil enough already, now the sights are fixed on Asia. For us, it means there’s a strong possibility Bolehland would become battleground for wars between the West and China, dragging along each other’s allies in the region. Malaisesia would become another Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or Libya, plenty of choices how we get sacrificed, obliterated…

The natural bad manners of the US saw that granny Sherman demanded some kind of delusional god-given right to poke her nose where the Cambodians saw no cause to open up for the US. That caused friction and pissed off the Cambodians. It’s no big surprise they were put off the Yanks in a big way. Not to forget that apart from their pushy ways, the Yanks have no money to impress the Cambodians like the Chinese uncles can. If you have no money, talk like a brash bossy aggressive Yank, and look like that Windy Witch Sherman, anybody can be put off, that’s a law of nature.

The US has been busy wandering all over the world forming all sorts of anti-China gengs for others to join, but Cambodia has been left out. Weirdly, when it’s got a problem with Cambodia – which Cambodia doesn’t give a sh*t about, somehow the US still thinks and expects Cambodia to stand to attention and look up to the US! The Cambodians, the US seems to have forgotten, gave the US a good shagging and a half when Cambodia got dragged brutally into the Vietnam War.

Whatever history was, Cambodia quite rightly went for cooperation with China, and yes they may say they are not into developing the port for military purpose for China, comes the time, there shouldn’t be any surprise the port is entirely for China’s military use. And why not? Neither Cambodia nor China owes the West any explanation for anything, the West are no longer colonial powers – or any power, and the perceptive in Asia all know that. That’s why apart from the US colonies Japan and South Korea, the little countries in Asia do not want to be part of the US’ running puppy gangs to irritate China and get thumped in return.

Meanwhile, it would be a good use of opportunity and time China trains the Cambodian navy, brings it up to date in the latest developments – like aggressively chasing off intruders, modern sea warfare, accidentally sinking enemy vessels, showing the middle finger, and so on. More than just China making life difficult for the US etc, Cambodia joining in would be fun. And Chapatiland has already expressed concern over the Cambodian port development – as if Hindian warships can sail that far from the sh*thole country!

The one time Hindia did manage to reach near Cambodia for the “freedom of navigation” crap, it was doing the plantation monkeys’ stuff at the white massahs’ bidding. Apparently the Chinese were so impressed with the Hindian floating banana leaves their radar operators stayed asleep throughout. I always wonder if they weren’t hanging around carrying water for the white massahs, would the Hindians come on their own and thump their hollow chests, and ask to use the loos on China’s waters.

Needless to say, I can’t wait for at least a few skirmishes to take place involving Cambodia and China v the US etc, maybe China launches a military aircraft or warship at the US war machine – or better still Australia’s, and accidentally destroy it. Or at the least buzz those vessels and frighten them with the middle finger… It has been so many years of ceaseless drama of aircrafts and ships sent to Asia to antagonise China, if there’s not going to be at least a few decent fights, no country in Asia is going to be impressed by the West at all. If the US is so kiasu about bringing a genuine fat chequebook to the region or have a few nice skirmishes with China, then it’s best to cut the endless sh*t about China and fcuk off elsewhere to stir sh*t and scare nobody.

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