China’s Colonization of Cambodia Continues
Satellite imagery captured on October 1 shows that Cambodian authorities have torn down an American-built facility at the nation’s Ream Naval Base in the latest sign of Cambodia’s lurch toward China and away from the United States.
The demolished building was the Tactical Headquarters of the National Committee for Maritime Security. It was constructed by the U.S. and inaugurated in 2012.
“The recent demolition,” the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative wrote, “seems to confirm that changes are underway at the naval base” and “raises questions about rumored Chinese access.”
These rumors had been circulating since last July when the Wall Street Journal broke a story saying Cambodia agreed to grant China’s military exclusive rights for 30 years to a 62-acre section of the Ream Naval Base. The agreement said the Chinese military would be permitted to station soldiers, weaponry and warships at the base.
Since the Journal quoted only officials who were not at liberty to go on record, the deal remained unconfirmed. But as the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative wrote, this month’s news of the demolition seems to verify the reports.
Drake Long, an Asia-Pacific Fellow for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, affirmed this view. Writing for the Diplomat this week, he said the demolition suggests that Cambodia is now “preparing to hand the base over to China.”
This is significant, Long wrote, because establishing a naval presence at Ream could be viewed as Beijing’s “most naked attempt at bolstering China’s military position since its construction of man-made island fortresses atop reefs and rocks in the South China Sea.”
The ability to launch military operations from the naval base and airport would considerably boost China’s power to enforce its claims of sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea. A military presence on Cambodia’s coast would also increase China’s influence over the strategically vital Strait of Malacca, through which 90 percent of South China Sea crude oil shipments transit.
The Dara Sakor Airport
Meanwhile, just across the bay from Ream, a state-run Chinese firm is constructing a $3.5 billion airport. Upon opening, which China says will occur late this year, the location will be Cambodia’s largest airport, significantly larger than the international airport in Cambodia’s capital city. China argues that the Dara Sakor airport is meant for commercial use only. But satellite imagery shows that its 11,000-foot runway is considerably longer than those needed for commercial aircraft and of a suitable length for China’s long-range fighter jets, surveillance planes and possibly even its military transport aircraft.
Drake Long said the combination of the naval facility at Ream and the airport in Dara Sakor makes China’s inroads into Cambodia so significant. “After considering the two in tandem,” he wrote, “one can see just how significant China’s push for a military footprint in mainland Southeast Asia would be for the region.”
The Japan Times noted that China’s foothold in Cambodia “would mark a critical moment in Southeast Asian security and potentially transform the regional security outlook.”
This transformation is partly because, since 2014, China has also constructed and militarized seven artificial islands in the South China Sea, mainly in the Spratly and Paracel chains. Adding a military position in Cambodia to China’s existing presence on these islands would give China a triangular perimeter around the entirety of mainland Southeast Asia.
“If you have a naval base in Cambodia, it means the Chinese Navy has a more favorable operational environment in the waters surrounding Southeast Asia,” Charles Edel, a former U.S. State Department official, told the Wall Street Journal. “You have all of a sudden mainland Southeast Asia potentially sitting behind a defensive Chinese military perimeter. This is by far the biggest implication.”
Drake Long agrees with this view. He wrote: “China’s aggressive surveillance flights in the South China Sea will only get more provocative if planes can take off from Cambodian soil, forcing nearby countries to reexamine their political will to resist Beijing’s coercion and weigh the benefits of a rapprochement instead.”
A Loss for America
U.S. officials have been taken aback by Cambodia’s decision to let China establish such a game-changing presence in the nation, largely because Washington has invested considerable resources over the years into building up Cambodia and working to win it over as a partner country.
The U.S. has pumped billions of dollars into the nation for military assistance, education, poverty reduction and economic growth. It has helped train the Cambodian military and built defense installations there—including the one the nation just tore down to make way for China’s entrance.
In spite of all the spending and overtures, Cambodia is snubbing America and giving China invaluable access to its territory.
One worrying way China’s presence there could undermine U.S. power is in the event of an attack on U.S. allies and partners in the region, such as Japan, the Philippines, South Korea or Taiwan. Should one of these countries come under Chinese attack, some of the American forces charged with defending them would ordinarily transit the Strait of Malacca. But by using forces based in Cambodia, China could block or seriously complicate such a passage.
The deal with Cambodia represents the latest increase in China’s capacity to project military power around the world at the expense of U.S might. This development simultaneously advances three trends that are significant in the context of Bible prophecy: the advent of “the times of the Gentiles,” the assembling of “the kings of the east,” and the decline of America.
‘The Times of the Gentiles’
Luke 21:24 speaks of a time in the modern era when the world would enter into an epoch called “the times of the Gentiles.”
In his February 2020 article “The Climax of Man’s Rule Over Man,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry discussed this era, explaining that the term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples. Israelites make up “a lot more than the little nation in the Middle East,” he wrote, adding that in end-time prophecy, Israel refers to modern-day America and Britain primarily. (For a complete explanation, order your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)
“Once you understand who Israel is,” Mr. Flurry wrote, “then you can see how the Gentiles—the non-Israelite peoples—have started to take charge of the world already.” He continued: “While there are many Gentile nations around today, when this prophecy is completely fulfilled there will be two major powers—one revolving around Russia and China, and the other around Germany. Each will have strong allies ….”
When the world is fully in the midst of these “times,” U.S. influence will have dried up. Countries such as China will have filled the vacuum of power.
“These ‘times of the Gentiles’ are yet to be fully realized,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “However, we are in the outer edges of this catastrophic storm.”
Cambodia’s decision to turn its back on America and invite China into its territory blows this “catastrophic storm” nearer.
‘The Kings of the East’
Revelation 9:16 discusses an Eastern army that will emerge during the same “Gentile” era. This force will consist of 200 million soldiers. Revelation 16:12 calls this future Asian bloc “the kings of the east,” with the pluralized “kings” indicating a multinational bloc comprised of multiple Asian states. Ezekiel 38 provides several details about this military alliance, including the fact that it will be headed by Russia, with China in a position of junior leadership.
When Asian countries such as Cambodia rally behind China today, they are laying the foundation for “the kings of the east” prophecy to be fulfilled.
The Decline of ‘Israel’
World-renowned educator Herbert W. Armstrong forecast decades ago of the collapse of U.S. power. Just after America’s botched invasion of Cuba in 1961, he placed the blame at the feet of, not the U.S. military or even the Kennedy administration, but the American people: “Unless or until the United States as a whole repents and returns to what has become a hollow slogan on its dollars: ‘In God we trust,’ the United States of America has won its last war! [T]he God America has deserted gave it its most humiliating defeat! What does the Cuban debacle mean? It means, Mr. and Mrs. United States, that the handwriting is on your wall!” (Plain Truth, October 1961).
Mr. Armstrong understood that America was heading for collapse because the people had rejected God. And he made his forecasts with confidence because they are founded on Bible prophecy. The Bible includes a remarkably specific and recognizable forecast for the descendants of Israel, which include America. God said that if the nations of Israel rejected Him, He would “break the pride of [their] power” (Leviticus 26:19).
In the decades since Mr. Armstrong wrote those words, the American people have hastened their desertion of God. They have calcified their rejection of His law. And in the time since, America has inserted itself into dozens of military altercations. Each of these halfhearted campaigns has drained a little more of the country’s pride in its power.
Luke 21:26 says these various trends will culminate in a time of unprecedented worldwide conflict and suffering when “men’s hearts” will be “failing them for fear.” Yet the next verse says that the conflict will conclude with the most revolutionary and transformative event in history:
“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (verse 27).
These tragic times of the Gentiles, the outer edges of which the world is already in, will transition directly to Jesus Christ’s return! He will bring in an epoch of peace and prosperity for the peoples of China, Cambodia and all nations. Regarding this future age of global peace, Isaiah 2:4 says: “[N]ation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”