tirsdag 20. november 2018

Cambodia at the center of a new Cold War

Since 2017, China has lobbied Cambodia for a port in Koh Kong on the Gulf of Thailand that could also be used as a naval base, though it remains unclear how far construction has progressed on the deep-water port. A China-controlled naval base in Cambodia would tilt the region’s strategic dynamic by giving Beijing a southerly position it now lacks in any conflict scenario. Depending on Pence’s message, that could pull Cambodia into the South China Sea imbroglio and position the country more directly as a US adversary, analysts say. It would also potentially put neighboring Thailand on high alert, notably as it takes over Asean’s revolving chairmanship.

China is now Cambodia’s largest provider of loans and aid, and has remained a key ally as the Phnom Penh government faces sanctions and economic retribution from the US and European Union after a recent general election judged to be illegitimate by the international community.