Power Play

The geopolitical realities of Ream Naval Base

America has sounded the alarm about Chinese designs on the naval base in Cambodia. While its position has strategic value, it is not a game changer.

Cambodia's Defence Minister Tea Banh (left) and China's Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian in a groundbreaking ceremony at the Ream naval base on June 8, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
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On June 8, Cambodia broke ground on an expansion of Ream Naval Base, located on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, an inlet in the south-western part of the South China Sea.

Two days earlier, The Washington Post had reported that China was establishing a military presence at the naval base, citing United States officials. Part of the new facilities, bankrolled by Beijing, would be used exclusively by its military, said the report. In 2019, The Wall Street Journal said China had inked a secret deal that would allow it to dock its warships at the base.

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