It has long been feared that Cambodia’s growing dependence on China — its largest aid donor, investor and creditor — would lead to a Chinese military presence in the country. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, those fears are now coming true.

Like a gambler reliant on a loan shark, Cambodia has, in recent years, racked up massive, opaque debts to China, which it cannot repay. This has given China considerable leverage, enabling it, for example, to evade U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs, by re-routing exports to the United States through Cambodia’s Chinese-owned Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone.

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