Beijing’s geopolitical moves continue to obfuscate its larger designs, surprise observers, and render the United States and its allies reactive. The prospect of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia offers a case in point.
This issue — seemingly obscure and inconsequential to many observers — made the news in late 2018 when American Vice President Mike Pence raised it in a letter to Cambodia’s increasingly authoritarianleader, Hun Sen. Subsequently, Hun Sen dismissed media reports that China sought a naval base in Cambodia as “fake news.” In repeated denials, he proclaimed that Cambodia’s constitution prohibits any foreign country from setting up military bases within the country’s sovereign territory.
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