Kandal provincial authorities said the Vietnamese military are turning one of their 10 makeshift tents along the border into a concrete shelter.
In a letter to Kandal governor Kong Sophorn, provincial police chief Chhoeun Sochet said the Vietnamese side originally built the tents for their soldiers on the disputed zone to prevent illegal border crossing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said eight Cambodian border police officers, seven soldiers from border protection unit 601, and Ka’am Samnor commune police went to inspect the structure in Tan Chau district in Vietnam’s An Gaing province that borders Cambodia’s Ka’am Samnor commune in Loeuk Daek district.
There, they met their Vietnamese counterparts who were constructing the structure made of wood with concrete pillars. Covered by a zinc roof, the structure, measuring 20sqm in width and 3m in height, is located about 120m from the border.
“We met the Vietnamese chief of the 925 Vinh Xuong border post, demanding they halt the construction. But the Vietnamese side said they only followed the command of their superiors who told them to construct four [solid] shelters,” Sochet said.
He said the Loeuk Daek district governor also went to check the tents on Wednesday and told his Vietnamese counterpart again to halt the construction, but to no avail.
A local police officer said on condition of anonymity that since the Covid-19 outbreak, Vietnam had erected 10 tents along the unresolved border.
The Vietnamese authorities, he said, claimed they plan to replace the makeshift tents with solid shelters higher from the ground because the area is prone to flooding.
Var Kim Hong, the senior minister in charge of border affairs, told reporters at the Council of Ministers on Thursday that he was aware of the new structure, but had not received a detailed report from the provincial authorities. He said the location is in a “white zone” that remains under negotiations.
“We have not reached an agreement. We’ve requested France for help on the remaining 16 per cent of our unresolved borders.
“We’ve requested the French president to guide us on how to transform the 1/100,000 Bound Map into a 1/50,000 map. But there is no result yet because we have not agreed with each other on the terms of reference,” he said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson and Sophorn could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch said with some border poles left from the French colonial era, some parts of the borders between the Ka’am Samnor crossing and Chrey Thom checkpoint have been demarcated, while some parts remain under negotiations.
The new solid structure was built without mutual agreement, he said.
“If Vietnam does not remove them, we have some steps to take – send a diplomatic note, call a meeting of both countries’ border committees and construct the same posts in the same distance from the borders. If they don’t respect us, we can respond in kind.
“We can use our forces to destroy those tents, but doing so would violate their territorial sovereignty. So, the only way is to construct [tents] on our land just like them because Vietnam violated