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Asia Minute: China Increasing Military Shipments to Southeast Asia

National Crime Agency / Flickr
National Crime Agency / Flickr

China is increasing its weapons shipments to countries in Southeast Asia. Most of the dealings involve sales, but other developments are less straightforward. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Late this week, China gave 3,000 assault rifles to the Philippines along with three million rounds of ammunition and thirty sniper rifle scopes.

The Beijing government called the move a gesture of “friendly and cooperative relations” – the latest such gesture since President Rodrigo Duterte took power last year.

The weapons, worth more than 3 million U.S. dollars, will all wind up the Philippine National Police—an idea definitely NOT endorsed by the United States.

Last year, the U.S. Congress blocked the Philippine police from buying more than 20,000 American M4 rifles.

And around the Asia Pacific it’s not just the Philippines receiving arms from the Chinese.

The South China Morning Post reports the Royal Thai Army is set to receive its first shipment of 28 battle tanks from China as soon as next week.

Thailand has also ordered three diesel-electric attack submarines from China while Malaysia has agreed to buy four coastal patrol ships from Chinese companies.

Indonesia’s navy also depends on China for supplies of ship weapons systems and missiles.

And Reuters reports China has increased its military shipments to Cambodia. At the same time China is providing most of the naval ships, armored vehicles and fighter aircraft used by the government of Myanmar.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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