China will train Cambodia’s military under a new deal signed Wednesday, following an earlier agreement to sell 12 helicopters to Phnom Penh, officials said.
Cambodia is in need of the military assistance and China had honored its request with the deal, Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh said at the signing ceremony.
Moeung Samphan, secretary of state in Cambodia’s Ministry of Defense, inked the agreement in Phnom Penh with the deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), who is on a three-day visit to the country.
Under the deal, China will enhance the capacity and expertise of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces by offering training courses and providing military equipment and materials, according to China’s Xinhua state news agency.
It will also provide musical instruments to be used during a military procession for the cremation of Cambodia’s late King Sihanouk next month.
Tea Banh said that the training and the 12 helicopters will help boost the military’s capabilities.
“So far we haven’t had the equipment for emergency rescue and long-distance operations. We will use this to prepare our military,” he said.
The Chinese-built Zhi-9 army utility helicopters are part of a U.S. $195 million loan cemented late last year.
Tea Banh said they would be used mainly for emergency relief efforts.
Qi said after singing the training deal that China will continue to help Cambodia as long as long as it needs help.
“We have decided to provide helicopters for Cambodia to help develop this country. When Cambodia has a natural disaster, Cambodia can use its helicopters,” he said.
China has played a key role in improving Cambodia's dilapidated military inventory since 2010, when Beijing donated 250 jeeps and trucks to Cambodia's army after the U.S. scrapped a similar plan.
China is also investing heavily in Cambodia, with its companies pledging in the past year to pump $8 billion into the country, a figure equivalent to almost two-thirds of the Cambodian economy, according to Reuters news agency.
Reported by Sok Serey for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.