In its latest show of support for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, China on Saturday gifted an array of military hardware, including vehicles and spare parts, to be used in an auto-repair training program.
The handover ceremony took place at the Infantry Institute in Kampong Speu province between Minister of Defence Tea Banh and Chinese Ambassador Bu Jianguo.
The package included 44 different types of military vehicles, 20 elevators, four kitchen trailers, 122 different vehicle spare parts, as well as unspecified chemicals.
Chao Phirun, the director of the Defence Ministry’s Technical Department, said the aid was the result of enhanced bilateral cooperation between the two countries’ defence sectors.
“The military materiel from China will improve the skills of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, safeguard territorial sovereignty and prevent illegal immigration, as well as illegal fishing and human, drug and arms smuggling,” he said. “It will also improve skills for joining disaster relief.”
He added that the materiel were essential for training Cambodian cadets.
Ambassador Bu said the military aid was meant to boost the development of the Kingdom’s human resources.
“[I’m] confident that the two countries will continue to support one another on the international, regional and sub-regional [levels],” he said.
China has been ramping up military aid to Cambodia for several years. In January of 2013, the Chinese government agreed to bolster training and increase equipment donations. That year, Cambodia bought 12 Z-9 helicopters from China, with help from a $195 million loan.
However, in July 2014, one of the craft crashed into a quarry outside Phnom Penh, killing four people.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the opposition supports military assistance, as long as it does not result in heavy debt.
“The assistance must not be linked to conditions that will cause us to lose benefits, or make the nation owe debt,” he said.
Meanwhile, state news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse reported on Friday that Australia and Cambodia have agreed on a five-year plan to expand military cooperation.