Financial TimesFinancial Times

China denies building naval bases but fear of its military reach grows

By Kathrin Hille, Demetri Sevastopulo, John Paul Rathbone

19 Jun 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

China is building of a network of "strategic strong points" within state-owned oversees ports positioned along critical maritime trade routes. It's part of a “civil-military fusion” policy.

Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh took great pains this month to convince western military officials and diplomats that China was not building a military base in his country. His remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum matched Beijing’s insistence that the People’s Liberation Army is not trying to build a global network of bases.

But the US and its allies are unpersuaded. Derek Chollet, a top US state department official, said Washington was “convinced” China was building a base at Ream on Cambodia’s Gulf of Thailand coast. “We have indications that China is seeking an exclusive military facility,” Chollet said in an interview.

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