Beijing’s move was swiftly followed by an announcement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his country would be investing £280 million in efforts aiming at fighting climate change and “disaster resilience in the Pacific”. Analysts have suggested the decision was the result of pressure by Washington to counter Chinese influence in the South China Sea, where Beijing has built numerous military installations in recent years.
The agreement between China and Cambodia will see the Beijing invest $290million to expand its presence in the south-east Asian country.
Under the terms of the deal, China will get access to a Cambodian naval base, plus the rights to invest in a base located in the Gulf.
Documents obtained by the United States suggested China would be able to use the base for 30 years, and would be able to deploy “military personnel, store weapons, and berth warships”.
The move is certain to trigger alarm bells in Washington, where concern over Chinese influence in the South China Sea has been mounting for some time.
The US are concerned by China’s growing influence as it pumps money into overseas projects via its ‘One Belt, One Road’ policy.
Despite the existence of the documents, Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, has vehemently denied the reality of the deal.
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Cambodia is one of the signatories of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Australian junior minister Andrew Hastie irked Beijing yesterday after comparing China’s increased activity to Nazi Germany prior to World War 2.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Mr Hastie suggested Australia was in a similar situation to France in World War 2, saying his country had failed “to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbour” China had become.
Liberal MP Andrew Sharma backed Mr Hastie, saying: He added: “In World War 2, we failed to realise early enough that German ambitions could not be accommodated.
“The point is, rising powers inevitably cause convulsions within the international system, and China’s rise is no different.
“If the rising power is revisionist in nature, and cannot be accommodated within the existing order – because it fundamentally does not accept the legitimacy of that order — then the future becomes much tougher.
“The ideological direction and ambition of China has become far more pronounced. Our strategy and thinking needs to reflect this shift.”