China gets rolling on military vehicle delivery to Thailand

Kristin Huang

China will deliver US$76 million worth of military vehicles to Thailand next week, one of three orders to be filled over the next few years as the two countries forge closer military ties.

The delivery would comprise 34 VN-1 armoured personnel vehicles, 10 VT-4 tanks and five other supporting vehicles, the Bangkok Business News reported on Monday.

The second batch of 34 vehicles and third batch of 39 would be delivered in the next two to three years, the report said.

The VN-1, designed by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) for the international market, is used to transport army and marine corps.

It is one of a number of armoured personnel vehicles China has exported, including to Argentina and Venezuela.

Authorities in Caracas deployed VN-4 “Rhinoceros” armoured personnel carriers – also made by Norinco – against protesters calling for the downfall of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in May.

The VT-4 is a third-generation Norinco-built tank – 28 of which were delivered to the Royal Thai Army in October 2017.

Thailand used to buy most of its most of its weapons from the United States but started looking to China after a military coup in Thailand in 2014 sent a chill through ties with the US.

Thailand reopens free trade talks with EU to reduce reliance on China

China and Thailand have strengthened diplomatic and military ties in the years since, with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Chinese State Councillor and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe meeting on Sunday.

During the meeting, the Thai leader pledged to adhere to the one-China policy and play an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s trade initiative to link economies into a China-centred trading network.

Prayut also said he hoped the two countries would further strengthen cooperation on military equipment and technology, joint exercises and joint training, as well as multilateral security.

Besides the armoured personnel vehicles and tanks, Thailand has made several major arms acquisitions from China in recent years, including anti-ship missiles and rockets.

It has also ordered a submarine from China which is due to be in service by 2023 and cost US$390 million, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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