Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua said the Philippines has not finalized any deal on the purchase of firearms from China.
“We’re exploring the possibilities of providing arms and radars [but]we have not come to the stage of finalizing any kind of deal,” Zhao said at the embassy’s Christmas reception for media in Makati City on Monday night.
The official said both sides are still in the preliminary stage of talks and had not discussed the amount of the deal.
But if the deal pushes through, Zhao said China can only provide the Philippines light arms to counter terrorism and for the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“Most probably [rifles],” he said.
He acknowledged that the Philippines needed more firearms for the increasing number of policemen and soldiers.
Zhao also noted that President Rodrigo Duterte has made it clear that he will receive firearms from other countries.
“It is the right of the Filipino side to decide from which country they would like to have weapons they need at a reasonable price,” he said.
Duterte over the weekend said that Beijing is rushing him to have the weapons shipped.
In a separate press briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang did not give an elaborate answer when asked about Duterte’s statement.
“As China and the Philippines work on improving their relations, China stands ready to resume and strengthen its exchanges and cooperation with the Philippines in various fields,” he said.
Reports said Duterte secured an agreement with China and Russia to give the Philippines a 25-year soft loan to buy military equipment as the new administration veers away from the country’s traditional ally, the United States.