Closing ceremonies of the joint Chinese-Cambodian Golden Dragon military exercises got underway on Thursday morning, with soldiers from both sides conducting heavy live-fire drills at Mreh Prov mountain in Kampong Speu province and officials from both countries giving speeches about their expanding relationship.

The exercises began March 15, and are being conducted under the banner of “counter-terrorism and humanitarian relief”. Hundreds of soldiers were participating.

Minister of Defence Tea Banh and Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo oversaw the operations this morning, which included soldiers searching for mines and deactivating chemical bombs while Chinese helicopters in the nearby mountains demonstrated shooting rockets at "terrorist camps".

In a prepared speech, RCAF Deputy Commander in Chief Eth Sarath praised the growing relationship between China and Cambodia, which has increasingly pivoted towards Beijing as it alienates traditional Western development partners, particularly amid a widely criticised crackdown on the political opposition and civil society.

"Through the 2018 joint exercise, we have increased the relationship between RCAF and the Chinese People's Liberation Army to cooperate in all means and exchange experiences with each other, especially in making Cambodian soldiers increase their capability to another level in advancing their weaponry, modern technology and making a strategy in fulfilling the mission to fight against terrorists."

Updates to follow