Chinese Navy Secures Exclusive Access to Cambodian Base

Warships of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province of China
Fu Tian/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Chinese Navy Secures Exclusive Access to Cambodian Base

The People’s Liberation Army’s establishment of a naval base in Cambodia is a significant victory for China and a considerable loss for America’s global power.

“This isn’t just a visit or an exercise,” said Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (amti), on April 19. He was referring to warships from China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (plan) that have spent more than four months docked at a newly built naval base inside the Gulf of Thailand in Ream, Cambodia.

“It appears that they’ve been based there,” Poling said, in light of satellite imagery amti recently analyzed. No other vessels, including Cambodian ones, have been spotted using the base. Poling says this shows that despite denials from both the Cambodian and Chinese governments, “the plan is operating out of Ream.”

The Trumpet reported in 2019 that Cambodia had secretly agreed to grant China’s military exclusive rights for 30 years to a 62-acre section of the Ream base. The agreement permitted the Chinese military to station soldiers, weaponry and warships there. amti’s new report shows that China has now established an apparently permanent and exclusive presence at this base.

Cambodia’s attempts to keep the deal a secret were likely fueled by fears of domestic backlash, since the country’s Constitution outlaws foreign military bases inside its territory. Details about why Cambodian leaders are flouting the law to allow China in remain unknown. But China’s ability to launch military operations from inside the Gulf of Thailand considerably strengthens its means of enforcing claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea.

Over the last decade, China has built and militarized seven artificial islands in the South China Sea, mainly in the Spratly and Paracel chains. Adding a military foothold in Cambodia to China’s existing presence gives China a triangular perimeter around the entirety of mainland Southeast Asia.

“What appears to be evident is that Beijing has begun to station semipermanent warships there as a means of solidifying its military footprint across Southeast Asia,” said Paul Chambers, political scientist at Naresuan University in Thailand.

China’s military presence on Cambodia’s coast is also extremely significant since it boosts China’s control over the strategically vital Strait of Malacca, through which some 90 percent of South China Sea crude oil shipments pass.

Many American officials have been disheartened by Cambodia’s decision to grant China this game-changing military foothold, largely because the United States has spent lavishly over the years to develop Cambodia in an effort to win it over as a partner.

The U.S. has pumped billions of dollars into Cambodia for military aid, education, poverty reduction and economic development. It has helped train Cambodian soldiers and has built military installations in the nation—including parts of the Ream Naval Base where China now has exclusive access.

But despite America’s outlay and overtures, Cambodia is cold-shouldering the U.S. and giving China strategically valuable access to its territory.

Analysts are especially concerned that China’s foothold in Cambodia could undercut U.S. power in the event of an attack on U.S. partners in the region, such as Japan, the Philippines, South Korea or Taiwan. Should one of these allies come under attack, many of the U.S. forces charged with their defense would customarily pass through the Strait of Malacca to help them. But with warships based in Cambodia, China could seriously complicate the passage of U.S. forces.

The new base in Cambodia is only the latest sign of China’s rising ability to project military power around the world at the expense of America’s global might. This trend is quickly advancing, and it simultaneously pushes forward three developments that are significant in light of Bible prophecy: the decline of America, the world moving deeper into “the times of the Gentiles,” and the coming together of “the kings of the east.”

The Decline of the U.S.

The late educator Herbert W. Armstrong forecast decades ago the collapse of U.S. power. Just after America’s botched invasion of Cuba in 1961, he laid the blame at the feet of, not the U.S. military or even the Kennedy administration, but the people of America. This was because of the people’s lawlessness and refusal to turn to God.

“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 America’s global power was heading for collapse. He made his forecasts with confidence because they are founded on Bible prophecy. The Bible includes remarkably specific forecasts for the descendants of “Israel,” an ancient name that refers largely to the modern people of America. God said in Leviticus 26:19 that if the nations of Israel refused to turn to Him, He would “break the pride of [their] power.”

In the six decades since Mr. Armstrong wrote that Plain Truth article, the people of the U.S. have intensified their rejection of God and His law. And in the time since, America has entered dozens of military clashes, with each halfhearted campaign sapping a little more of the nation’s pride in its power. And America has lost its influence over numerous overseas locations, including Cambodia.

‘The Times of the Gentiles’

Luke 21:24 speaks of a time in the modern age called “the times of the Gentiles.” This is essentially caused by the vacuum left by America’s decline.

In his February 2020 article “The Climax of Man’s Rule Over Man,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained that the term Gentile in this context refers to “two major powers—one revolving around Russia and China, and the other around Germany.” He explained that during the “times of the Gentiles,” these would be the main nations rising to fill the void left by America, and that they would dominate the world.

Late last year, after observing shifts in the global power balance and various trends underway in Europe and Asia, Mr. Flurry wrote: “We are deep into the times of the Gentiles already. You can see it happening.”

Cambodia’s cold shoulder to America and its extraordinary invitation to China is one area where we can see the world moving more deeply into this dark epoch.

‘The Kings of the East’

Revelation 9:16 discusses an Asian military force that will emerge during the same “Gentile” era. This force will consist of a jaw-dropping 200 million soldiers. Revelation 16:12 calls this future Asian force “the kings of the east,” with the pluralized “kings” indicating a multinational bloc made of multiple Asian nations. Ezekiel 38 provides several details about this military alliance, including that it will be led by Russia, with China in a position of secondary leadership. It shows that several other less powerful Asian countries will be under the leadership of Russia and China.

With Asian nations such as Cambodia rallying behind China today, conditions are ripe for this prophecy to be fulfilled.

Luke 21:26 shows that these various trends will culminate in a time of unprecedented global calamity and suffering when “[m]en’s hearts” will be “failing them for fear.” Yet the next verse says the calamity will end with the most transformative event in human history. The times of the Gentiles, which humanity is already in, will transition directly into a time of utterly unprecedented peace and prosperity for the peoples of China, Cambodia, America and all countries.

To understand the significance of China’s deepening influence in Cambodia and beyond, and the hope that is tied into current trends, order your free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy.