A total of 3,136 soldiers from Cambodia and China have embarked on the fourth Golden Dragon military drill. It is being held from March 15-30 under the theme United to counter terrorism and Cambodia-Chinese humanitarian work.

The Ministry of National Defence said on Sunday that Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief Vong Pisen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian presided over the opening of live-fire exercises.

It is held at Techo Sen Chumkiri Training School at Trapaing Raing commune, Chumkiri district, in Kampot province.

According to an announcement, 2,871 Cambodian soldiers and 265 Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers are taking part in the exercises.

The Royal Cambodian Armed forces (RCAF) used four helicopters, 10 T55 tanks, 12 DMT1 armoured vehicles, six 122-D30 artilleries, 12 mortars and many other automatic weapons, and investigative and demining tools, and tools for liberating hostages and neutralising chemical substances.

Chinese soldiers used six helicopters, three 122-D30 mobile artilleries, nine armoured and 28 other vehicles and various combat equipment in the exercises.

Ministry spokesperson Chhum Socheat told The Post on Sunday that Chinese soldiers had been checked rigorously for symptoms of Covid-19.

The checks were conducted in full consideration of the safety of residents around the vicinity of the exercises and people’s health across the country.

“Before the Chinese came, the health of the soldiers was already checked. All 265 of them had undergone standard scans and extensive physical tests to ensure they are healthy and coronavirus-free,” he said.

When asked where the Chinese soldiers had come from, Socheat replied “We don’t know because the Chinese soldiers are from a very mobile and advanced unit.

“They have come from a variety of provinces, but the important thing is they have been checked thoroughly and have no signs of Covid-19,” he stressed.

Socheat said this year’s Golden Dragon exercises will continue to focus on counterterrorism and humanitarian work.

“The exercises present an opportunity for the two armies to continue gaining experience from each other and increasing their professional capacities.

“After this training, they will be able to rescue people during disasters, maintain peace and fulfil missions and duties to defend the nation more efficiently and effectively,” he said.

Socheat said the drill would also contribute significantly to friendly relations between China and Cambodia, and especially between the RCAF and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

“The friendship between our nations is the strongest it has ever been under Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Golden Dragon joint military drill was held for the first time in 2016, the second in 2018 and the third in 2019. Around 3,000 soldiers from both armies have attended each event.

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh will preside over the closing exercises.