Is China building a military base in Cambodia?

Beijing says its investment in Ream is for Cambodia’s navy – but the base would give it a strong foothold in the region, write John Pollock and Damien Symon.

The World Today
Published 28 July 2023 3 minute READ

Damien Symon

Geo-intelligence researcher, The Intel Lab

In the four years since US intelligence first disclosed to The Wall Street Journal that an agreement had been reached granting Beijing military access to Cambodia’s Ream naval base, analysts have watched the development of what many suspect is China’s next overseas military base.

Now, satellite images from Maxar Technologies reveal the dramatic transformation the Cambodian naval base, near Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand, is undergoing. This Chinese-funded project would extend Beijing’s military reach into the contested waters of Southeast Asia.

The latest satellite images acquired in June show an assortment of Chinese-funded building activities. Visible are land clearance operations, land reclamation efforts, the construction of several new buildings, roads and importantly a large pier much bigger than the base’s original jetty. New fencing is visible around the base’s perimeter, and buildings funded by the US have been demolished and replaced.

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