Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh took great pains this month to convince western military officials and diplomats that China was not building a military base in his country. His remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum matched Beijing’s insistence that the People’s Liberation Army is not trying to build a global network of bases.
But the US and its allies are unpersuaded. Derek Chollet, a top US state department official, said Washington was “convinced” China was building a base at Ream on Cambodia’s Gulf of Thailand coast. “We have indications that China is seeking an exclusive military facility,” Chollet said in an interview.