Cambodian naval personnel are seen on boats berthed at a jetty at the Ream naval base in Preah Sihanouk province on July 26, 2019 during a government organized media tour. / AFP / TANG CHHIN Sothy
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Cambodia gave an unprecedented media tour of a strategically crucial naval base Friday as authorities try to knock down a report of a secret deal allowing Chinese warships to dock at the facility.The Ream naval base, near Sihanoukville, is on the Gulf of Thailand with easy access to the fiercely contested South China Sea.The Wall Street Journal this week reported a deal had been struck allowing China to dock its warships and store weapons at the base, apparently confirming months of rumors.Billboards on the approach to the base in Chinese and Khmer advertised soon-to-be-erected restaurants and hotels.Reporters, closely chaperoned by navy and government officers, were shown a number of outhouses and a jetty where several Cambodian-flagged patrol ships had docked.
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