Phnom Penh, Cambodia – The US Navy aid unit has been told to leave Cambodia, the US embassy said, in a show the Southeast Asian country is further cutting links with the American military machine as it strengthens ties with China.
The ejection of the US Navy Mobile Construction Battalion, known as the Seabees means the cancellation of 20 planned projects all across Cambodia, including schools and hospitals, the embassy announced recently.
In the announcement posted on Facebook by the US embassy in Phnom Penh, the American State Department tried to put a positive spin on the rejection of American aid,”Last week, the Royal Government of Cambodia notified the Embassy of its decision to postpone indefinitely the Seabees program,” the embassy stated. “We are sad to see the Seabees go, but proud of their accomplishments over the last nine years.”
The Cambodian defence ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said he was unaware of such a decision. Experts took this as a sign Cambodia was seeking to keep the Americans departure a low key event, preferring to focus on the positive features of Phnom Penh’s new relations with Beijing.
Cambodia has followed a policy harder than other Southeast Asian nations in embracing China and the ending of relations with Washington. US President Trump had promised a policy of less US involvement abroad, but his actions so far have shown that rather than viewing the Cambodian rejection as a plus, America may actually see it as a loss.