Military exercise with China on despite virus outbreak

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Defence Minister Tea Banh delivered 300,000 face masks to the Chinese embassy on Monday, when he confirmed the annual military exercise will not be cancelled. Heng Chivoan

The Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia said on Monday that the annual golden dragon military exercise between Cambodia and China will be held in March according to schedule.

The confirmation came as China expressed its thanks to Cambodia for not discriminating against the country in the face of the mounting Covid-19 epidemic.

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said: “The military exercise this year between the Chinese and Cambodian armies will take place this month to highlight the deep friendship between our two armies.

“I am confident that with the easing of Covid-19 [in China], the cooperation between China and Cambodia in all fields will improve.”

On Monday, Defence Minister Tea Banh went to the Chinese embassy to deliver 300,000 face masks and other anti-infection clothing via Wentian to the Chinese Ministry of Defence for use in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

As of Monday, there were about 80,000 cases of Covid-19 infections in China. Of those infected, more than 40,000 were treated and discharged from hospital, and 2,912 had died.

In recent days, the rate of new infections in China has been declining, but several countries around the world have experienced a surge in Covid-19 infections.

China, under Chinese President Xi Jinping, will succeed in the fight against the Covid-19 virus, Wentian said.

“Although the virus is very aggressive, it is not possible to prevent mutually beneficial cooperation between Cambodia and China,” he said.

Wang said the declaration from the Cambodian government to share China and its people’s happiness and pain in the face of the deadly Covid-19 virus was highly appreciated.

“What China is thankful for is that in these difficult times for the Chinese people, Samdech Techo Hun Sen made an emergency visit to Beijing, China to express his solidarity,” he said.

Wang noted the delivery of the masks and clothing from the Ministry of Defence to the Chinese Ministry of Defence was also a testament of the two countries’ deep friendship.

China’s army has dispatched more than 4,000 medical experts, divided into three groups, to help fight the Covid-19 virus in Wuhan, the most infected region in China, Xinhua reported on Monday.

For the upcoming military exercises, Banh said, there will be no reduction in the number of troops.

“There is nothing that has changed. Cooperation, including the preparation for the upcoming military training, will continue,” he said.

Last year, the Golden Dragon exercise was held in Kampot province in February, with nearly 3,000 Cambodian and Chinese troops focused on strengthening their humanitarian capacity, disaster management and counterterrorism activities.

Last year’s military exercises included the use of armoured vehicles, tanks, artillery, mortars, and helicopters.