China donates patrol boats to PH Navy
The Chinese government has donated four patrol boats to the Philippine Navy as Manila seeks closer ties with Beijing despite a sea dispute.
“The Philippine Navy thru the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) General Headquarters has accepted the donation from the PRC (People’s Republic of China) four patrol boats,” Navy spokesperson Cdr. Jonathan Zata said Sunday.
The donation came with 30 units of rocket propelled grenade launcher (40 mm) with corresponding ammunition.
Zata said they are assessing how the new boats can be integrated into the organization and supported in the long term in terms of logistics.
“We have assigned personnel to train on its operation and maintenance,” he said.
Other details of the patrol boats were not immediately available.
In late 2016, China has offered military assistance of $14 million worth of small arms and fast boats to the Philippines for free.
Photos of the blue patrol boats being transported along Roxas Boulevard in Manila circulated on social media last Friday.
China had also previously donated thousands of rifles and ammunition to the Philippine police and military as it battled Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City.
President Rodrigo Duterte chose to seek warmer ties with China after a sour territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea during the previous administration. He pursued an independent foreign policy and sought closer ties with China as it distanced itself from the US.
Despite the friendly relationship between the two countries, China continues to assert “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea with its nine-dash line claim. It was invalidated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in 2016 but China has refused to acknowledge the ruling.
The Philippine government has also played down the ruling in exchange of economic investments and friendly ties with China. /ee
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