General Ith Sarath, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), addressed the formal opening of the China-Cambodia “Peace Angel 2023” joint humanitarian exercises on September 16 in Kamboul district’s Kamboul commune, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

He noted that this year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia and the year of Sino-Cambodian friendship. The joint drills, he added, reflected the unbreakable traditional friendship between China and Cambodia.

The 13-day initiative aims to celebrate anniversary of diplomatic relations, while also focusing on capacity building and sharing best practices in healthcare, disaster relief and communicable diseases.

“We are conducting these exercises with soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army [PLA] to increase the emergency response capacity of our own army personnel,” said Sarath.

He added that all of the participants will learn from each other’s experiences and improve their professional skills. The exercises will comprehensively promote the joint rescue capabilities of the Cambodian army in multinational operations, enabling them to respond to emergency disaster medical rescue missions at any time.

Senior Colonel Hao Linyuan, leader of the Chinese guidance and coordination group for the drill, said they were the first of their kind between the two allies.

“The exercises are a historical moment for both countries. These medical drills aim to strengthen and expand strategies and the Chinese side are elated at the opportunity of cooperating with a friendly nation,” he added.

The drills are scheduled to run from September 16 until September 26.

RCAF spokesman Thong Solimo said the troops will also provide free medical check-ups for the general public at the Preah Ket Mealea Hospital and the 4th Military Hospital in Siem Reap on September 22-23.

Major General Pen Sokrit Vityea, who heads the working group for the drills, announced on September 14 that 269 Chinese military personnel had arrived in the country, along with essential hardware and supplies.

He noted that the equipment included three ambulances and 1,000 sets of medical equipment.

Sokrit Vityea expressed optimism about the collaboration, saying it offers a valuable opportunity for the two nations to exchange experience.

“I believe this will enhance our military cooperation,” he added.