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China’s Covid-19 controls hinder talks over submarine engine

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The Royal Thai Navy said on Thursday that it has postponed talks with submarine manufacturer China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) to early May because of China’s strict Covid-19 restrictions on foreign arrivals.

The talks, scheduled to kick off this month, aim to address the problem of the submarine’s production coming to a halt in early March when Germany blocked the export of MTU396 diesel engine to China.

Navy spokesman Vice Admiral Pokkrong Monthatpalin said the exact date of the talks will be confirmed by CSOC.

“Commander-in-chief Admiral Somprasong Nilsamai insists the talks be held as soon as possible to ensure we receive the [Yuan-class S2-6T] submarine as per the specifications ordered,” he added.

“The talks will only discuss the submarine engine issue and will not cover other issues such as the purchase of second-hand submarines.”

Pokkrong also said that the delay has nothing to do with the upcoming no-confidence debate as some have speculated, as the exact date of the parliamentary debate has yet to be set.

The Navy signed a 13.5-billion baht deal in 2017 with CSOC for the purchase of an S26T submarine fitted with MTU396 diesel engines from Germany’s Motor and Turbine Union Company.

However, Germany blocked the export in line with a European Union arms embargo imposed on China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Published : April 22, 2022