Procurement: China Pays To Play In Cambodia


December 12, 2013: China recently delivered twelve Chinese made Z-9 helicopters to Cambodia. The Z-9 is a license built version of the French AS 365N Dauphin. It's a four ton chopper with a two ton payload that Cambodia will use to train helicopter pilots and handle transportation tasks best carried out by helicopters.

This delivery was quite fast, as it was only 11 months ago that China approved a $195 million loan for Cambodia so that the poverty stricken country could buy new military equipment. Cambodia used some of that money to order the Z-9s and China delivered in less than a year.

China has built over 200 of the Z-9s and many have been armed (with twin 23mm cannon, torpedoes, anti-tank missiles, and air-to-air missiles). These are the Z-9WE, which is an export version which is modified to more easily accept Western electronics and weapons. Cambodia is initially receiving the transport version of the Z-9, but this version can be armed as well. Export orders for the Z-9 have been hard to come from, which may account for the fast delivery and loans. 

China is the main supplier of military equipment to Cambodia. The U.S. had been ready to supply this material but backed off because of the corruption and mismanagement of the Cambodian government. That sort of thing does not scare off the Chinese. Moreover, the Chinese need some allies in this part of the world because most other nations are uniting against Chinese claims to control the entire South China Sea. Cambodia has no problem with that because it has no seacoast on the South China Sea (just the Gulf of Thailand). Thus, Cambodia is the only nation in Southeast Asia that is not hostile to China and China is willing to pay what it takes to keep it that way.



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