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Thailand’s Planned Acquisition of Chinese Submarine Hits Snag

Thailand’s planned acquisition of its first Chinese submarine is reportedly on hold after Germany refused to provide the required propulsion system.

In a recent press conference, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha explained that the country would consider shelving the planned purchase if the contract was not honored.

“What do we do with a submarine with no engines? Why should we purchase it?” he asked, as quoted by the Bangkok Post.

Initiated in 2017, the plan is to buy a submarine from China for 13.5 billion Thai baht ($403 million) for delivery by 2023.

Contractor China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. (CSOC) opted to use an engine from German engine manufacturer MTU Friedrichshafen, but the latter refused to ship the engine to the Asian nation.

Export of Military Weapons Banned 

The German Embassy in Thailand revealed that the Chinese government did not inform Germany before signing the contract with Thailand that its engine would be used in a submarine.

The European Union strictly prohibits member nations from exporting military weapons and equipment to China following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Following MTU Friedrichshafen’s refusal to send an engine, CSOC had reportedly stopped constructing the submarine.

The shipbuilding firm has offered the Royal Thai Navy Chinese-made engines or the transfer of two of China’s decommissioned submarines instead.

The southeast Asian nation has refused both offers.

The Thai and Chinese governments will hold talks later this month to settle the issue.

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