Reminder: CCP can't be trusted

Reminder: CCP can't be trusted

Reminder: CCP can't be trusted

A former naval intelligence officer warns the United States must realize a few things as China openly ramps up its efforts at a Cambodian naval base.

Earlier this week, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Mao Ning, announced that the country would be assisting in upgrading Cambodia's Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand.

Asking for full transparency, the Biden administration expressed concern about China's activity with Cambodia's leader at the base. Captain James Fanell, a former director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, agrees that the U.S. should be concerned.

"The recent public statement by the People's Republic of China (PRC) Foreign Ministry that China is helping Cambodia upgrade the Ream Naval Base raises a number of lessons for the Biden administration and those who continue to push for a policy of engagement with Communist China," Capt. Fanell tells AFN.

He points to a 2019 report by The Wall Street Journal, which was one of the the first noting the not-so-secret deal between the PRC and Cambodia to construct a naval base at Ream.

Fanell is not surprised that the PRC has long denied such reports and "assured the world that no such activity was underway." The first lesson to be learned, he says, is to "never trust" anything the PRC shares.

"The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will use denial and deception to hide its capabilities," he asserts.

Fanell, Capt. James Fanell

A second lesson, he identifies, is that when it comes to an invasion of Taiwan, the United States and her allies must expect the PRC will hide the capabilities, readiness, and force posture of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the armed wing of the CCP, in order to achieve surprise and their short-, mid-, and long-term goals.

"Finally," Fanell continues, "the announcement that the PRC is building a naval base at Ream, Cambodia is a clear indicator that Beijing is seeking to provide Cambodia and the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) a new type of military umbrella."

ASEAN member states include Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and others.

The former naval officers says, "We are frequently told by the China Hands* experts that ASEAN does not want to choose between the U.S. and China [and] that ASEAN members want to have their economic security supported by trade with China and their security requirements backed up by the U.S."

But with this activity in Cambodia, he says America needs to understand that "the CCP is seeking to provide ASEAN both economic and national security assurances, thus making the U.S. irrelevant in Asia."

But whether the U.S. gleans those lessons from this announcement remains to be seen.

*"China Hands" is a term that refers to American diplomats, journalists, and soldiers known for their knowledge of China and influence on American policy before, during, and after WWII. During and after the Cold War, the term "China watcher" became popularized.