Cambodia – Cambodian leader Hun Sen ordered the military to destroy or stockpile any US weapons, after Washington’s imposition of an arms embargo over human rights concerns and Phnom Penh’s strong connections with China.
The US enforced a weapons embargo on Cambodia just recently, citing worries about the southeast Asian country’s human rights and corruption situation, as well as China’s involvement there.
According to a statement, the US State and Commerce ministries took measures to limit Cambodia’s military and intelligence organizations’ access to “defense items and defense services.”
However, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen today criticized the US weaponry and equipment’s quality.
“I direct all army units to conduct an urgent examination of Cambodia’s present arsenal of guns and military hardware. “We must immediately recall any US armaments and military things if they exist — store them in warehouses or burn them,” he said on Facebook.
“(The US arms embargo) serves as a reminder to the next generation of Cambodian leaders that if they want an autonomous military sector, they should refrain from using US weaponry.”
“Many who employ US weapons have lost battles,” the Cambodian strongman stated, referring to Afghanistan.
Washington sanctioned two Cambodian officials in November for charges of corruption involving a US-funded naval facility.
Cambodia’s long-serving leader is one of China’s closest Asian allies, and his government has begun removing structures at the Ream facility that were constructed in part with American funds and hosted US exercises.
The US-Cambodia relationship has been strained by the Sihanoukville facility on the Gulf of Thailand in recent years, with Washington thinking it is being transformed for Chinese use.
Hun Sen has denied on several occasions that his nation will host the Chinese troops at the site.
Beijing has been asserting territorial claims in the South and East China Seas, provoking problems with a number of Asian states, but Cambodia has increasingly seemed to be an ally.