China is secretly constructing a naval facility at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand for exclusive use by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a report published yesterday in the Washington Post said, citing Western intelligence officials.
The report said that China and Cambodia went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the operation. Ream Naval Base would be China’s second confirmed overseas military base after Djibouti in East Africa, and assuming that the intelligence is correct, indicates that despite Washington’s efforts to contain Chinese expansionism, Beijing is forging ahead with its plan to build a network of military facilities across the globe to challenge the US’ post-World War II military dominance.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Indonesia yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called the report “concerning” and hinted that the unnamed Western intelligence officials may have been Australian.
“We’ve been aware of Beijing’s activity at Ream for some time. We encourage Beijing to be transparent about its intent and to ensure that its activities support regional security and stability,” Albanese said.
In addition to Djibouti and Cambodia, Beijing appears to have earmarked a number of other locations across the globe for military bases or logistics facilities as part of its “string of pearls” grand strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.
At the end of April, China revealed that it had inked a secret security deal with the Solomon Islands, Taiwan’s former diplomatic ally which was poached by Beijing in September 2019. Although the text of the finalized deal is not in the public domain, a leaked draft shows that it would allow the deployment of Chinese security forces in the event of domestic unrest to “protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects” on the islands, as well as grant Chinese naval vessels safe harbor at the strategically important deep-water port on the island of Tulagi, 2,000km from the Australian coastline.
Were China to develop Tulagi into a permanent naval base, military analysts believe it would allow the PLA to project power deep into the South Pacific, threaten supply lines to Australia, and facilitate Beijing’s key strategic priority to deny the US and its allies access to the region. There was shock in Washington and Canberra following the announcement of the deal, and a sense that both nations had been thoroughly wrong-footed by Beijing.
Taipei expressed concern over the regional security implications of the deal, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) saying the deal could threaten US supply lines in the event of a war between Taiwan and China.
The US Department of Defense’s Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021 said that aside from Djibouti, China was “very likely already considering and planning for additional military bases and logistics facilities to support naval, air, and ground forces projection.” The report listed Angola, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates as potential locations.
Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port was effectively handed over to China in 2017 after Colombo became ensnared by Beijing’s debt-trap diplomacy. The debt restructuring deal gave China a controlling equity stake and a 99-year lease for the port.
The development of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port forms a key element of the greater China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, which is a key spoke within Beijing’s wider Belt and Road Initiative to secure key strategic supply lines throughout the globe. Beijing has also pursued closer military and economic ties with Thailand in recent years, which could pave the way for a Chinese military base in the country.
China’s militarization of islands in the South China Sea and its “string of pearls” strategy to acquire military bases such as Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base in the Indo-Pacific region present a formidable challenge to the US and the defense of Taiwan in the years ahead.
As Taiwan is facing global crises from the COVID-19 pandemic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is again time to take stock. In terms of public health, Taiwan has made it through the COVID-19 challenge quite well. By combining masking, vaccinations and border controls, it has achieved a sufficiently protective herd immunity and is expected to end quarantine requirements for incoming travelers by the end of the summer. What about Ukraine? Here, Taiwan must assess four key players in its region. The first is Russia, which must be seen as a developing enemy. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Ukraine declared
Two awards for contribution to the study of Sinology were announced on Monday. The first was for British art historian Jessica Rawson, named this year’s winner of the Tang Prize in Sinology. The Tang Prize was established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑). The second was for Slovenian Sinologist Jana Rosker, who won the Taiwan-France Cultural Award — established by the Ministry of Culture and the Institut de France’s Academy of Moral and Political Sciences — for her work introducing Taiwanese philosophy to Europe. Rosker said that Taiwan has integrated Western philosophy and Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism into a
Ned Price, spokesperson of the United States Department of State, is a Twitter influencer at the exalted “celebrity/macro” rank. So, even though it was well after working hours on Friday evening, May 20, 2022 — as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepared for President Biden’s first presidential trip to Asia — Ned Price was sure of an audience as he “tweeted” the following message: “The PRC continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy. The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act,
Following the controversial nomination process of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate for the Taoyuan mayoral election, various KMT members are vying for a nomination for the November vote in Kaohsiung, where they would face off with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Former Department of Health minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) last week said that if given the mandate, he would run as the KMT’s candidate. Sun Yat-sen School president Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) also expressed his willingness to run, touting his policies for Kaohsiung at a conference held by local industry representatives on Thursday last week. If