July 29, 2019 / 5:55 AM / a month ago

Cambodia says to increase arms purchases from China

FILE PHOTO: Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen arrives at the Independence Monument to attend celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of the country's independence from France, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Samrang Pring/File Photo

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday that an additional $40 million would be spent on weapons from China to modernize the Southeast Asian country’s military

Cambodia’s military ties with ally China have been under increased scrutiny after concerns expressed by the United States and a report - denied by Hun Sen - of a secret deal to allow Chinese forces to use a Cambodian naval base.

Hun Sen said the $40 million to be spent by Cambodia was in addition to a total of $290 million already given by China for modernizing the forces. He spoke during a visit to a Chinese-funded stadium in the capital Phnom Penh.

Hun Sen said weapons being purchased included tens of thousands of guns to replace old stock and they were already being shipped.

“I want to strengthen the army,” Hun Sen said in a speech broadcast live on Facebook.

Hun Sen again dismissed a Wall Street Journal report last week that China had reached a secret deal with Cambodia this year to let it place forces at Ream. The report cited U.S. and allied officials.

The United States has also voiced concern that the Ream naval base in southern Cambodia could host forces from China.

Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Michael Perry

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