Cambodia's Defense Minister Tea Banh (left) and China's Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian (center) take part in a groundbreaking ceremony at the Ream naval base in Preah Sihanouk province on June 8, 2022. (PANN BONY / AFP)
PHNOM PENH – Cambodia on Wednesday started an upgrade project in the Ream Naval Base located in the southwestern province of Preah Sihanouk with China's aid, officials said.
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Tea Banh and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian, among around 2,000 people, attended the ground-breaking ceremony.
Banh said the project will strengthen Cambodia's naval capacity to protect maritime territorial integrity and combat crimes.
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"I have a strong conviction that when completed, these modern facilities will importantly contribute to protecting Cambodia's independence, peace, security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as to enhancing the image of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in regional and international affairs," he said in a speech.
The Ream Naval Base upgrade project is a result of mutual respect and equal consultation between Cambodia and China, said Wang Wentian
Banh said the modernization of the Ream Naval Base would also contribute to maintaining peace, security and prosperity in the region.
"On behalf of the government and the defense ministry of Cambodia, I'd like to express my profound gratitude to the government, the People's Liberation Army and the people of China for providing kind support to the RCAF," Banh added.
"Your assistance has elevated our defense capacities to a new level."
Noting that the bond of friendship between China and Cambodia has grown stronger, Wang said the Ream Naval Base upgrade project is a result of mutual respect and equal consultation between the two sides, in line with domestic laws of both countries and relevant international laws and practices.
"It is not targeted at any third party," the Chinese ambassador noted.
Wang said certain countries keep smearing the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Cambodia, arbitrarily impose unilateral sanctions on Cambodia under the disguise of democracy and human rights, and blatantly interfere in Cambodia's internal affairs through long-arm jurisdiction.
"We firmly oppose all these misbehaviors," he said.
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The ambassador said China will always be a good neighbor, a reliable friend and a trustworthy partner that Cambodia can count upon, and that it is ready to build a closer China-Cambodia community with a shared future, contributing to the well-being of the two peoples and the construction of a China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) community with a shared future.