No deal yet on firearms purchase from China

MANILA, -- A firearms deal between the Philippines and the People's Republic of China needs a signed government to government agreement before it can push through.

"We have not come to that stage. Yes, yes preliminary talks has just started. But I cannot say when they will meet again," Geng Shuang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters in an interview at the sidelines of the Christmas party hosted by the Chinese Embassy at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City Monday night.

Shuang said both parties are still exploring the possibilities of China providing arms and radars. He added: "We have not come to the stage of finalizing any deal."

He said China is exporting light weapons to other ally countries for their own defense build up but they cannot discuss details.

He said it needs to pass many processes before they can call it as done deal.

"Again, I would like to say that this is the right of the Filipinos to decide to which country they would like to have weapons," he pointed out when informed that the Philippines is also interested to buy weapons from Russia.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed willingness to accept an arms deal proposed by China, further signifying a recent thaw in relations between the two countries.

Duterte promised to send Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to China to accept the firearms which are to be paid within 25 years.

Shuang claimed that they have no time frame to ink the firearms deal. He said the Philippine government has yet to be convinced that their firearms can compete with other dealers.

The Philippines is also interested to purchase sniper rifles from Russia.

Secretary Lorenzana recently said the Philippines' Army and the Marines are set to conduct research into whether it will be possible to seal the deal.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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