SOUTH CHINA SEA have erupted boosting fears of open conflict after Beijing cut a secret deal with Cambodia which could extend their control in the contentious waters.
Reports that China cut a deal with Cambodia to use part of a naval base is raising concerns that Beijing could extend its territory in the South China Sea which includes the Malacca Strait. A deal signed earlier this year between Cambodia and China would give Beijing exclusive rights to a 62-acre zone of the 190-acre Ream naval base near Sihanoukville, according to The Wall Street Journal. The naval base is also close to a large airport that a Chinese company is building.
US officials allegedly saw an early draft of the deal and said the agreement would allow China to station military personnel, store weapons and dock warships at the base.
China would also be able to use the facility for 30 years with automatic renewals every 10 years.
US Officials also said China plans to build two new piers for both themselves and Cambodia.
Chinese and Cambodian officials have denied the reports.
Cambodian defence officials allowed the media to gain access to the base to show there was no Chinese presence in what has been described as a “stage-managed visit”.
However reports suggest the areas on display were very limited.
The US and other countries are concerned by the growing Chinese presence in the waters which includes a series of deals along the Pacific and Indian coasts.
The agreements have mainly been focussed on infrastructure and economic activities but some suspect China has military intentions.
Deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration, Ben Rhodes said: “A lot of the strategy we’ve seen is the Chinese are trying to create a ring from essentially their coastline, the South China Sea, all the way down through the Indian Ocean and down to East Africa.
“If you look at Cambodia, and then the Chinese are building a big port in southern Myanmar, then they have a lot of interest in Sri Lanka, an island country off the coast of India, then they have this base in Djibouti — it’s not hard to see the kind of dotted line that connects a lot of this infrastructure they’re building.”
“Some of these are outright military facilities, like in Djibouti.
“Some of these begin as infrastructure projects, ports, that then become used for military purposes.”