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Cambodia Shifts Away from U.S., Towards China

Asia Times reports that “on January 16, Cambodia announced that its annual joint military exercises with the United States, known as Angkor Sentinel, will be canceled until at least 2019. The surprise move came just days before the inauguration of US President Donald Trump and underscored Cambodia’s ever-growing economic and strategic ties with China.”

“Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat attributed the decision to two key reasons. First, the military was too busy enforcing a national anti-drug campaign, which was launched last month. Second, with commune elections scheduled for June, the armed forces are needed to ‘protect the good security and public order for the people,’ he said.”

“Analysts have noted that past events, including the country’s hotly contested 2013 general elections, have not notably overstretched the military’s capacity. If human resources were an issue, however, analysts wonder why Cambodia did not suspend Angkor Sentinel until later this year, after the commune elections and six-month anti-drug campaign, to keep US strategic relations on an even keel?”

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