China’s strongest ally in the South China Sea – Thailand, is quietly but firmly pushing back against Beijing. It has decided to not only postpone the procurement of two submarines from China but has also shelved the Chinese proposal for building a canal in the Bay of Bengal replacing it with its own project.
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Following public outrage over the US$724 million purchase of two submarines from China, Thailand has now delayed the deal. Under a 2015 deal, Thailand was one of the first countries to buy Chinese naval hardware and finalized its purchase of three submarines in 2017, with the first one expected to be delivered in 2023.
The order for two more submarines was approved this month for US$723.9 million by the parliamentary committee – a move that saw public outrage as the country suffers from a declining economy.