Staff, China Times, Apr 8
China will offer a 10-year loan to Thailand if the latter chooses to acquire Chinese-made submarines over that of its competitors, reports Huanqiu, the Chinese-language website of the nationalistic Global Times tabloid.
According to an announcement from the Thai defense ministry, the Royal Thai Navy intends to acquire three new submarines for around US$1 billion, though budgetary constraints mean the purchases could be made individually or stretched out over a period of time. A supply consultation report is expected to be issued by the end of the year, with more details of the plan to be released before November.
Thailand's defense minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, is expected to discuss the deal-sweetening loan with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan during his visit to Beijing between Wednesday and Friday this week. The Thai general, who also serves as the country's deputy prime minister, will be accompanied by a team of military officers including Kraison Chansuwanit, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy.
Thailand is currently considering several alternatives in addition to China's Yuan-class Type 041 diesel-electric submarine, including Russia's Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine, Germany's export-only Type 209 attack submarine, and South Korea's HDS-500RTN, a custom-made sub based on the KSS-500A mini-sub.