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Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

Navy prepared to pull out of sub purchase from China

Navy chief Adm Choengchai Chomchoengpaet speaks to reporters at Thonburi Palace in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)

The navy is prepared to pull out of its submarine purchase project with China if the conditions of the procurement are unfavourable, the navy commander-in-chief said on Tuesday.

Adm Choengchai Chomchoengpaet said the Thai navy wanted the Chinese navy to guarantee the Chinese-made CHD620 engine the builder wants to use in the S26T Yuan-class submarine ordered from China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC).

The contract called for the installation of the well-proven German-made MTU 396 diesel engine, but Berlin will not allow it to be sold to China.

The navy will discuss the submarine procurement project with CSOC early next month.

The company will be asked for a clear timeframe for the construction, because the navy needs to prepare its budget for the purchase, Adm Choengchai said.

"There is a delay in clarification about the engine... The first-stage test of the engine was completed. The second stage concerns spare parts... The navy is making inquiries about the matter with CSOC," he said.

The navy chief also said it would be good if the Chinese navy would guarantee the engine to be installed in the  submarine. "Without a guarantee, we cannot be confident that it is good," he said.

Asked whether the navy could terminate the procurement project if its condition were turned down, Adm Choengchai said: "Yes. At this stage, it can be terminated anytime."

"But there should be negotiations and they should present their conditions. There will be negotiations for the Chinese armed forces to take part in the matter," the navy chief said.

Asked if he was concerned about international relations, the navy chief said he was concerned and that international relations should be protected.

Asked if he discussed the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping during last week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok, Adm Choengchai said the matter was not discussed then.

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