The South China Morning Post reports that China has donated $22 million in arms and ammunition to the Philippines, the second arms transfer from China to the Southeast Asian nation in less than four months, and the most recent of many signs of deepening ties between the two countries. The Philippines’ political realignment from the U.S. to China since the election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was one of the big China-related stories of 2016, and it has continued in 2017. This particular arms sale is making up for a weapons deficit after the U.S. refused the sale of 26,000 rifles to the Philippines amid concerns about police abuses in the country’s war on drugs.
SCMP notes that the Philippines isn’t the only Southeast Asian country buying Chinese arms:
- Thailand is expecting the shipment of $147 million worth of battle tanks from China, 18 months after agreeing to buy them.
- Malaysia last year agreed to pay $277 million for four Chinese coastal patrol vessels.
- Indonesia has bought defensive technology for its ships from China, and also agreed to exchange military technology information with China.
- Myanmar gets “most of its fighter aircraft, armored vehicles, guns and naval ships” from China. Myanmar is a focus of China’s arms sales, at least partially because it is a neighbor to India, with whom China has border tensions and whom China likely wants to contain via weapons sales.
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