China will provide military assistance to Cambodia in a new deal signed Wednesday following an earlier agreement to sell 12 helicopters to Phnom Penh, underlining the strengthening alliance between the two countries.
Under the deal, Beijing will provide assistance in improving the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces by offering training courses as well as providing military equipment and materials, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
This follows an earlier agreement to purchase 12 Chinese-built Zhi-9 army utility helicopters using part of a $195 million loan from Beijing. The choppers will be used mainly for humanitarian missions.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of Cambodia, Tea Banh, said the training and helicopters will help boost the military’s capabilities.
“So far we haven’t had the equipment for emergency rescue and long-distance operations. We will use this to prepare our military,” he said during the signing ceremony at Phnom Penh with visiting Deputy Chief of Staff General Qi Jianguo of the People’s Liberation Army.
Tea Banh claimed that Cambodia is in need of the military assistance and China had honored its request.
China has played a key role in developing Cambodia’s dilapidated military over the past two years as well as providing massive loans and large-scale investments in construction, energy, transport and agriculture.
Critics accuse Cambodia blocking consensus within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in favour of China particularly in maritime disputes in the region.