PHNOM PENH • China has provided Cambodia with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, the Cambodian defence minister said yesterday, as the two countries agreed on new military aid to boost close ties.
Cambodia is one of China's most stalwart allies, routinely backing China's position at international forums in a region where China and the United States vie for influence.
"The visit of the defence minister of the People's Republic of China has achieved good results," Defence Minister Tea Banh told reporters after a signing ceremony with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Chang Wanquan.
Mr Tea Banh attended a meeting of defence ministers from the region this week where they scrapped plans for a joint statement after failing to agree on whether to include a reference to the disputed South China Sea, which China had objected to.
Mr Tea Banh made no mention of those negotiations but said China had recently delivered shoulder-fired missiles. "We don't need warplanes because, in the current situation, we have already set up (an) anti-aircraft system to defend our airspace," he said.
He gave no details about the type of missile, but said Cambodia was seeking longer-range hardware.
"We need to be additionally equipped to fire long range so even fast planes can't escape," Mr Tea Banh said. China would help with training and build military academies, he added.
Mr Chang told Mr Tea Banh that China would continue to help Cambodia develop and modernise its armed forces, deepening cooperation on every level, the Chinese Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Cambodia has border disputes with neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand. One dispute with Thailand in recent years resulted in brief exchanges of fire.