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The Chinese Are Building A Base In Cambodia But Their Sights Are Set On Us
China is building a naval base for its military in Cambodia. Work has been ongoing for some time with new buildings and roads being constructed and dredging occurring offshore to allow for the docking of large naval vessels. The United States and other Western powers have been monitoring the work continuously, but the Chinese have denied any intention to build a base in Cambodia. American intelligence now assesses that this is about to change and that the Chinese will formally acknowledge their intention to occupy the facility.
The base is located to the west of the South China Sea, where Beijing has overlapping territorial claims with several countries. It will be capable of hosting large naval vessels, according to sources.
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.
The building of this new base is being done pursuant to a secret military agreement signed between Cambodia and China in 2019. The Chinese have funded the construction costs. American-built facilities nearby have been demolished simultaneously.
The construction of this base is not occurring in isolation. The Chinese are building a network of bases and port facilities to which they have access all over the world. This ‘string of pearls” is part of a long-term Chinese effort to acquire the capability to interdict key shipping routes and strangle potential adversaries by denying them critical supplies and manufactured goods.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China in 2021 said that aside from Djibouti, China was “very likely already considering and planning for additional military bases and logistics facilities to support naval, air, and ground forces projection.” The report listed Angola, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates as potential locations.
Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port was essentially turned over to China in 2017. Pakistan’s Gwadar Port is another key piece of this Chinese network as are the heavily militarized artificial islands China has built in the South China Sea. The Chinese have access as well to the Kyaukovu port in Myanmar, the Coco Islands in the Indian Ocean, and the port of Chittagong in Bangladesh.
There are no indications that this Chinese effort to build military capacity worldwide is slowing down. Only recently, an agreement was signed with the Solomon Islands near Australia. This agreement appears to allow for the basing of Chinese military personnel and vessels in the Solomon Islands.
Even more ominously, it appears China is very close to the acquisition of another naval base in Equatorial Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. This base will reportedly be built at the port of Bata.
U.S. defense officials believe the Chinese want a base on the Atlantic coast where they can replenish naval combat units with fuel, ammunition, and consumables as well as create a facility where they can repair warships. General Stephen Townsend, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, said in May 2021 that “The Atlantic coast concerns me greatly.” His concerns are based on the short distance between the Atlantic coast of Africa and the eastern seaboard of the United States. Chinese ships based in Bata would pose a direct threat to the U.S.
China has had a relationship with Equatorial Guinea for fifty years. Its engineers have already made significant improvements to the port facilities at Bata.
What is happening in Cambodia is then simply one piece of a worldwide effort by Beijing. This is not a defensive effort. It is part of a broader plan to put Communist China in a position to dominate the planet and replace the United States as the world’s preeminent power.
The Chinese are moving aggressively and methodically. We are watching and largely doing nothing in response. We will likely pay the price for this passivity sooner rather than later. The Chinese are building a base in Cambodia today, but their sites are set on us.