The militaries of Cambodia and China have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost cooperation. The deal comes after the Biden administration hit Cambodia with sanctions and an arms embargo over its relationship with China.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said the deal was agreed upon by senior commanders during a video call on Thursday but didn’t elaborate on the details of the agreement.
“China and Cambodia are close neighbors and iron-clad friends,” Wu said. “In recent years, the pragmatic cooperation between the two militaries in various fields, including strategic communication, joint exercises and training, exchanges and personnel training, has continued to deepen.”
Last year, the Biden administration slapped sanctions on two Cambodian military officials over Chinese financing construction at the Ream Naval Base. The US claims Cambodia is allowing China to build a secret military base at the facility, which both Beijing and Phnom Penh have denied.
Following the sanctions, the US Commerce Department imposed export restrictions and an arms embargo on Cambodia over the Southeast Asian nation’s relationship with China. Announcing the restrictions, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the Cambodian government must work to “reduce the influence” of the Chinese military in the country.
But the US pressure hasn’t worked, and the new deal between Cambodia and China is the latest example of sanctions having the opposite effect of Washington’s stated goals.