Thai army takes delivery of Chinese battle tanks

Thailand’s Army has taken delivery of Chinese tanks and armoured personnel carriers, just three months after receiving armoured infantry vehicles from the US.

The army received 10 shiny new tanks and 38 armoured personnel carriers from China. All the hardware was taken to the Adisorn Cavalry Centre in Saraburi province for inspection.

The government hasn’t officially acknowledged its Chinese acquisitions and there has been fierce domestic criticism over its defense budget during an economic slowdown.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government has allocated 233 billion baht (7.7 billion $US) for security in fiscal year 2020, when Thailand’s economy is expected to to slow to 2.5-3% growth.

The US froze 4.7 million dollars worth of military aid and cancelled security agreements with Thailand in May 2014, after Prayut, then the head of the Thai Army, led a bloodless coup that deposed elected PM Yingluck Shinawatra.

The cancellation was a result of the US Foreign Assistance Act, which bars the US from sending aid to countries whose elected governments have been toppled by coup. Military ties improved when civilian rule was officially restored this year, although critics allege Prayut manipulated the election.

The latest delivery from China was part of a 50 tank deal ordered in 2016 by the Thai military government. The deal was worth about 7 billion baht ($231 million), the Chiang Rai Times reports

Thailand has also agreed to buy three Chinese submarines, worth 36 billion baht ($1.1 billion), with the first delivery expected within five to six years.

The NCPO approved the budget for the first submarine in January 2017 after delaying the purchase the previous year due to public criticism. In September this year Thailand also signed a deal with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation for an amphibious landing platform dock warship.

As part of its military modernisation, Thailand will also buy eight Boeing attack helicopters and related hardware from the USs in a deal worth 400 million dollars, and 70 Stryker armoured personnel carriers worth 5.4 billion baht ($175 million) according to US officials.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Jack Burton

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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