China Showcases Military ‘Robodogs’ in Joint Drills with Cambodia

Thu May 16 2024
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KAMPONG CHHNANG, Cambodia: China unveiled its advanced military technology, including machine gun-equipped robot battle “dogs,” during the commencement of its largest-ever joint military exercises with Cambodian forces.

The showcase of these “robodogs” comes amidst heightened concerns from the United States regarding China’s expanding influence in Cambodia, particularly through investments and infrastructure development, including the upgrading of a Cambodian naval base.

The joint drills, named Golden Dragon, involve over 2,000 troops, including 760 Chinese military personnel, and feature a wide array of military hardware, including 14 warships, helicopters, and armored vehicles. The exercises encompass various scenarios, including live-fire exercises, anti-terrorism operations, and humanitarian rescue missions, aimed at enhancing the capabilities of both armed forces in combat and crisis response situations.

One of the highlights of the drills was the demonstration of the “robodogs” – remote-controlled four-legged robots equipped with automatic rifles. While handlers showcased the mobility of these robotic assets, their full capabilities, including shooting skills, were not displayed to the audience of journalists and military officials.

Cambodia’s armed forces commander-in-chief emphasized the importance of the exercises in bolstering counter-terrorism capabilities, reaffirming Cambodia’s stance against foreign military bases on its territory. This assertion comes amidst speculation regarding China’s intentions with the renovation of the Ream naval base, which has been funded by Beijing and visited by Chinese warships.

The drills mark the culmination of China’s increasing military engagement with Cambodia, with the latter reportedly confirming that the Chinese warships present at Ream were aimed at training Cambodian naval personnel and preparing for the Golden Dragon exercises. Despite assurances from Cambodian officials that Chinese troops will not be stationed at the base, concerns persist regarding China’s strategic interests in the region, particularly in the South China Sea.

The joint exercises represent a significant shift in Cambodia’s military cooperation, with the cancellation of previous joint exercises with US forces in favor of closer ties with China. This shift underscores China’s growing influence in Cambodia and its efforts to deepen military cooperation in the region.

The drills follow a recent visit by China’s top diplomat to Cambodia, signaling a continued commitment to strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries. As China expands its military footprint in Southeast Asia, the joint exercises serve as a demonstration of its growing military capabilities and strategic partnerships in the region.

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