Even though Cambodia and China have denied Ream’s future secret naval base in the Gulf of Thailand, the extreme proximity seems to have been quite visible. Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of Cambodia and Wang Wentian, Chinese Ambassador to Phnom Penh, appeared to have enjoyed a friendly swim together off Sihanoukville on Tuesday, according to a report. The two leaders arrived in Sihanoukville to attend the opening ceremony of the construction of the Slipway Port, the ship repair shop in dry dock and the rehabilitation center of the modernization center of the Ream marine base, a said the ‘Khmer Times’ report.
#Cambodia Defense Minister Tea Banh shares photos of himself swimming with Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian this afternoon at a beach in Sihanoukville – amid reports expecting a Sino-Cambodian event at Ream Naval Base this week to potentially highlight China’s roles in the facility. pic.twitter.com/eVZkXl80q6
— Chhengpor Aun (@aunchhengpor) June 7, 2022
“This afternoon, during my visit to Sihanoukville, myself and His Excellency Wang Wentian, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia…dived into the sea to enhance brotherhood and cooperation,” Banh said. .
Also read: China and Cambodia claim secret Ream naval base
It comes as the Australian Prime Minister has expressed concern over the secret naval base report. Calling the report “worrying”, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had raised questions about the project and called for transparency. “We encourage Beijing to be transparent about its intentions and to ensure that its activities support regional security and stability,” Albanese said. Cambodia has also informed Australia that no foreign military will be granted “exclusive” access to the Ream base, it added.
Watch | Gravitas: China is building a secret military base in Cambodia
During a call with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn dismissed the report as “baseless accusations”, according to a statement released by Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
(With agency contributions)
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