Chinese Military Denies It Has Deal to Build Base in Cambodia

(Bloomberg) -- The Chinese military denied reports that it recently signed a secret deal to build a military outpost in coastal Cambodia.

Speaking during the release of the country’s first defense white paper since 2015, Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said reports China had sought to build a military base in Cambodia were “not true.”

He also told reporters in Beijing that “the Chinese and Cambodian armed forces have always carried out good exchanges and cooperation in military and personnel training, and logistics equipment.”

News of the secret deal emerged over the weekend in a report in the Wall Street Journal that cited unnamed U.S. officials.

According to the report, China had a 30-year agreement to place armed forces on a Cambodian navy base in Sihanoukville. An early draft seen by the U.S. officials indicates the Chinese military would use a 62-acre section of the base for posting military personnel, storing weapons and berthing warships, the newspaper said.

Bloomberg reported last week the U.S. was concerned about the military implications of a $3.8 billion resort and commercial zone in the otherwise sleepy Cambodian province of Koh Kong.

The comment comes two days after China’s Foreign Ministry deflected questions regarding the deal. “As I understand, the Cambodia side has denied this,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a regular press briefing.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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