Cambodia announces $100 million in military aid from China

In this Monday, June 18, 2018, file photo, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe arrives at the Peace Palace for a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.A Cambodian defense official said Tuesday that China has agreed to provide more than $100 million in military aid to the Southeast Asian nation, a close political ally. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — China has agreed to provide more than $100 million in military aid to Cambodia, a senior Cambodian defense official said Tuesday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Chhum Socheat said the aid for training, exercise and equipment was agreed upon over the weekend in a meeting between visiting Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh. Wei on Monday also met with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Wei's five-day trip was undertaken to strengthen military ties and attend a China-Cambodia military exhibition. It concludes on Wednesday.

China is Cambodia's closest political ally and a major economic supporter, wooing it into its sphere of influence with millions of dollars in aid and investment over the past decade.

It has provided millions of dollars in aid and investment over the past decade, granted Cambodia a tariff-free status on hundreds of trade items and written off its debt.

In return, Cambodia supports China in international forums, including Beijing's ongoing dispute with Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea. The alliance with Beijing has allowed Hun Sen to snub Western concerns about human rights and corruption.

In 2010, Beijing stepped in to provide Cambodia with more than 250 military vehicles after the United States earlier suspended a similar shipment when Cambodia repatriated 20 ethnic Uighurs asylum seekers to China.

In January, Cambodia and China signed nearly 20 agreements worth several billion dollars to develop the impoverished Southeast Asian country's infrastructure, agriculture and health care. The agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed during a meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang.

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