Chinese warship Zeng He visits Sihanoukville's port
SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (AFP) — The Chinese navy's Zheng He became the first warship from the country to dock in Cambodia when it arrived Wednesday, signalling deeper military cooperation between the two nations.
The ship, which carries more than 400 military personnel, will remain at Sihanoukville in the former communist country until the weekend, said a Chinese embassy statement after the Zheng He docked in Cambodia's main sea port.
The visit is intended to boost "the good relationship" between Phnom Penh and Beijing, Qian Hai, third secretary of the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, told AFP.
Chinese officials plan to hold talks with Cambodian naval and defence officials, and the two countries' marines are scheduled to play volleyball and football matches against each other during the visit, the embassy said.
Cambodian officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but Cambodia has in recent years become the focus of attention from both Washington and Beijing.
China, a former patron of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, eclipses many of the impoverished country's other donors with hundreds of millions of dollars in largely-unconditional aid and a number of naval patrol boats.
At least three senior commanders and four warships from the United States have also visited Cambodia over the past few years, and the superpower has donated military trucks as the country has emerged as a partner in Washington's "war on terror."