Cambodian and Chinese defense officials agreed to a major military assistance package Monday, days ahead of a meeting of regional defense ministers in Phnom Penh.
The $20 million agreement was signed by Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh on Monday, local media and Xinhua reported.
The assistance would be for the construction of military training schools and hospitals, Xinhua reported. Liang was to have a consultative meetings with Asean defense ministers Tuesday evening “to explain China’s stance on the South China Sea issue,” Xinhua reported.
Cambodia is currently the head of Asean, and the South China Sea issue pits Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam against China, which has steadily expanded its influence in the region.
Cambodia enjoys especially close ties with China and receives numerous aid packages from Beijing.
“It is good that he is going to explain China’s stance directly to Asean defense ministers,” Tea Banh was quoted saying in the Phnom Penh Post Monday. It was Cambodia’s decision to invite Liang to talk with the ministers, he said.