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Rings Alarm Bells in Washington

The Japan Times reports, the Dara Sakor is a 3.5-billion-dollar Investment Zone where a Chinese State company has acquired a 99-year lease. Planned is an international airport and deep-water seaport together with an industrial park, all alongside an international style tourist resort which encompasses 20 percent of Cambodia’s coastline.

Recently Cambodia demolished the old US naval facility buildings at that country’s Ream Naval Base adjacent to Dara Sakor. The Diplomat reports, that has raised suspicions throughout S E Asia that Cambodia is preparing to lease the base to PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy)- the Chinese Navy.

Were that to actually happen it would be a significant expansion of PLAN’S overseas capabilities. It would add another dimension to China’s growing strategic infrastructure in the Indian Ocean Region, which now includes fast growing facilities in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and more recently in Myanmar. All of which are additional to the burgeoning Chinese Military and Naval base in Djibouti.

All these facilities are part and parcel of China’s strategic goals in Southeast Asia. One of the most prominent is an ambition to circumvent a possible blockade of the Malacca Strait – by the US? A problem that former Chinese President Hu Jintao dubbed the “Malacca Dilemma”.

Dara Sakor/Ream Naval Base would be a useful addition to the pursuit of that goal. It would also redraw the strategic landscape of the region, hence the growing unease of the US and its allies.

December 20 2020