November 14, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Cambodia is set to take part in the Aman Youyi 2023 multi-national military exercises on counter-terrorism and maritime security. The drills are being hosted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, with the participation of UN representatives and members of the armed forces of six Asian countries.
On November 11, almost 100 personnel from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ (RCAF) Special Army Command and Brigade 70 departed to attend the exercises, which will be held in the Gaotan area of Shenzhen city, Guangdong province, China.
The Ministry of National Defence announced that the exercises will be held for 10 days, from November 13-22 under the theme: “Military Operations on Counter-Terrorism and Maintaining Maritime Security”. The Cambodian soldiers will be joined by UN staff and military personnel from Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and China to train in counter-terrorism operations, both on land and at sea.
While meeting with the Cambodian delegation on November 10, Ith Sarath, deputy commander-in-chief of the RCAF, noted that China’s invitation to participate was a source of pride for the Kingdom. He believed that the Cambodian forces would join the operations successfully.
“All of you are loyal, brave, fit and skilled. You must know how to control and use your forces to hit the target, while keeping military secrets. We must regard these exercises as core tasks,” he added.
He instructed them to make every effort to study and gain experiences from the various countries which are taking part, especially modern tactics, hostage release and the destruction of energy locations.
Seng Vanly, a professor of international relations and a regional political observer, supported Cambodia’s participation in the drills, noting that it helped raise the Kingdom’s profile and strengthened its military capabilities. He also noted that the multilateral participation showed a diversification of Cambodian military diplomacy, and created a positive picture in the international community, which sometimes criticised the Kingdom for a supposed bias towards China.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Cambodia. Maritime security issues are crucial to all countries which are close to the sea, as they are key to exports and imports. In addition, despite advances in air and land transport technology, inland waterways are also still important to international trade. Maintaining maritime security can attract investment, as the capacity to combat terrorist attacks is seen as important to international markets,” he said.
He believed that hosts China are focusing attention on improving regional maritime security, while also indicating to regional and global nations that its rise in influence through military diplomacy and joint military exercises does not represent a threat, but an opportunity.