Bangkok, Jun 2 (EFE).- The United States has expressed “serious concerns” about the presence of Chinese troops and the construction of facilities at a Cambodian naval base during Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visit to the Southeast Asian Country.
The US representative, who met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday, “sought clarification” for the demolition “without notice” of two buildings financed by the US at the Ream Naval Base, where Chinese military presence has been observed.
“A PRC (People’s Republic of China) military base in Cambodia would undermine its sovereignty, threaten regional security, and negatively impact U.S.-Cambodia relations,” an overnight statement said, asking Phnom Penh to “maintain an independent and balanced foreign policy, in the best interests of the Cambodian people.”
Sherman, who also met with politicians and activists opposed to the Cambodian government, called on the authorities to drop all politically motivated charges against opposition members, journalists and activists critical of Hun Sen, who has led the country since 1985.
In recent years, Hun Sen’s foreign policy has moved closer to the influence of Beijing, while Washington has condemned human rights abuses committed by the government, which in 2017 prompted a Supreme Court dissolution of the main opposition party and arrested its leaders.
The relationship between China and the US has deteriorated dramatically in recent years over issues such as human rights, trade and Beijing’s military expansion into the South China Sea.
Ream Naval Base is located in the Gulf of Thailand, a strategic place that would strengthen China’s force in the waters of Southeast and East Asia, whose sovereignty is also disputed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines as well as Taiwan. EFE