Phnom Penh (FN), July 26 – Defense spokesperson Chhum Socheat led a big group of 73 journalists to conduct fact-finding mission to the kingdom’s Ream Naval Base on 26 July 2019.

Besides Fresh News, there are representatives of AP, Reuters, Kyodo News, VOA, Cambodia China Times, AFP, Xinhua, Cambodia China Friendship Radio, and Japanese TV.

Media representatives confirmed shortly after visit that there is no presences of Chinese armed forces at Ream Naval Base.

“What the western media published was politically motivated and a falsified truth about Cambodia,” they said.

The decision to conduct fact-finding mission came after US-backed media, particularly VOA and the Wall Street Journal, recently published fake news, baselessly accusing the kingdom of signing secret deal with China over the use of military base at the kingdom’s Ream Naval Base.

There was a recent fake news published by VOA in early July regarding “Cambodia rejects US’s assistance for repairing training facility and boat maintenance depot at Ream Naval Base”. The media also said Joseph H. Felter, deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, Department of Defense, wrote a letter to Cambodian defense minister Tea Banh asking for explanation of the kingdom’s rejection of US assistance.

Shortly, defense spokesman Chhum Socheat denounced fake news and clarified that the Ministry of National Defense has never made such request.

On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal, also published another piece of fake news, entitled “Deal for Naval Outpost in Cambodia Furthers China’s Quest for Military Network.”

“China has signed an agreement with Cambodia granting its military exclusive use of part of the Ream naval base near Sihanoukville,” WSJ wrote in its article on 21 July 2019.

“Some details of the final deal were unclear, the officials said, but an early draft, seen by US officials, would allow China to use the base for 30 years, with automatic renewals every 10 years after that. China would be able to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships, according to the draft,” it added.

In response to such fake news and fabricated reports, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced through Fresh News on 22 July 2019 that the report on “Cambodia-China signing deal to use military base in the kingdom” is the worst form of fabricated news against Cambodia.

The premier also urged foreign media to stop using distorted news about China’s military presence in Cambodia.

A Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian also rejected a fake news published by the Wall Street Journal.

“It is a fake news and fabricated reports. China and Cambodia only have cooperation on military trainings and logistic supports and that such bilateral cooperation does not target any third country,” Wu Qian addressed to the press on 24 July 2019.