Despite a continuing coronavirus pandemic, China has launched military exercises with Cambodia.
Tipped to be a booster in bilateral military relations, this is the fourth joint military drill -- known as Golden Dragon -- between the two countries since 2016, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The exercises being held in Cambodia's southwestern Kampot province come at a time when the virus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to 146 countries or territories killing at least 6,470 people. Some 164,837 have been tested positive for the infection that emerged in China last December.
While Europe is now the "epicenter" of the global pandemic, according to the World Health Organization, China still has the largest number of confirmed cases -- more than 81,000 -- and over 3,218 deaths.
Cambodia, meanwhile, has diagnosed only seven cases so far.
Addressing the over 3,000 Chinese and Cambodian soldiers, Commander-in-Chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Gen. Vong Pisen said: "It [the drill] will further enhance cooperation between Cambodia and China on anti-terrorism and humanitarian rescue, and contribute to upholding peace, stability and development in the two countries and in the region.”
“[…] it is not meant to threaten other countries in the region,” Cambodian daily Khmer Times quoted Pisen as saying.
He told the soldiers “not to be too afraid” of the coronavirus. “They should focus on this exercise,” he said.