China is building a secret military base in Cambodia

According to Western sources cited by the “Washington Post”, Beijing is building a new base in Cambodia, for the exclusive use of its military ships: it is the second base outside the Chinese borders – and it is proof of the will of the Chinese navy to project the its strength far beyond its current borders

A secret base in Cambodia built forexclusive use of the Chinese Navy. The news, which had already been circulating for months, was confirmed by Western sources and the The Washington Post talked about it yesterday.

The new installation takes up the northern part of the Cambodian base of Ream, on the Gulf of Thailand.

It is the second of its kind to be inaugurated – a ceremony is scheduled for this week – by Beijing, after that of Djiboutiaway from the national territory.

For Western experts, this is the confirmation of how the People’s Republic – which already boasts the largest navy in the world (355 ships, destined to become 460 by 2030, against 297 in the United States) has decided to set out to become a “global power”for the first time in its millennial history.

(“Although the number of ships seems enormous, without a significant network of bases the ability of the Chinese to use their own means drops dramatically as they move away from their borders,” he explains to Washington Post Andrew Erickson, research director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at Naval War College).

Since the days of the Empire, the Chinese have always had little interest in what was happening far from their borders, however already large enough. The only episode to read as an attempt to conquer an overseas country occurred in the thirteenth century when an immense fleet tried to reach Japan. Twice, in 1274 and then in 1281, the ships of Emperor Kublai Khan were swept away by very strong storms (hence the Japanese expression kamikaze, “divine wind”), eventually forcing him to give up the expedition. But, in fact, in China then (and for a little while longer) the Mongols, a foreign dynasty, reigned.

The new emperor who sits on the throne of Zhongnanhai, the citadel of power in the heart of Beijing, has decided to change the constants of history as it is experienced in the country. Xi Jinping wants to project the new economic and military power by land and water (military bases and the new Silk Road).

The problem is that it is an unprecedented process for Chinese civilization. Which certainly has been attacked several times in the past and still remembers it with humiliation today. However, to every action corresponds – in human affairs – a reaction. This story is just beginning.

A version of this article appeared in America China, the newsletter that Corriere reserves for its subscribers. To subscribe to America China, one of the three daily events of Il Punto, just go here and click on Il Punto

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