Phnom Penh (FN), July 25 – Minister of National Defense Tea Banh decided this Thursday to allow local and foreign media to visit Ream Naval Base near Sihanoukville.
Defense spokesperson Chhum Socheat will lead a big group of 73 journalists to conduct fact-finding mission to the kingdom’s west coast on 26 July to clarify the truth with the aims to counter fabricated reports produced by US-based media over the alleged secret agreement.
Besides Fresh News, there will be representatives of AP, Reuters, VOA, Cambodia China Times, AFP, Xinhua, Cambodia China Friendship Radio, and Japanese TV.
The decision to conduct fact-finding mission came after VOA and the Wall Street Journal recently published fake news, baselessly accusing the kingdom of signing secret deal with China over the use of military base at the kingdom’s coastal province.
“China has signed an agreement with Cambodia granting its military exclusive use of part of the Ream naval base near Sihanoukville,” according to WSJ’s article on 21 July 2019.
“Some details of the final deal were unclear, the officials said, but an early draft, seen by US officials, would allow China to use the base for 30 years, with automatic renewals every 10 years after that. China would be able to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships, according to the draft,” it added.
In response to such fake news and fabricated reports, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced through Fresh News on 22 July 2019 that the report on “Cambodia-China signing deal to use military base in the kingdom” is the worst form of fabricated news against Cambodia.
The premier also urged foreign media to stop using distorted news about China’s military presence in Cambodia.
A Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian also denounced a fake news published by the Wall Street Journal.
“It is a fake news and fabricated reports. China and Cambodia only have cooperation on military trainings and logistic supports and that such bilateral cooperation does not target any third country,” Wu Qian addressed to the press on 24 July 2019.