China has provided thousands of firearms and ammunition to Philippines to support Manila in its battle against Islamic State-affiliated militants. This marks the first time the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) procured Chinese-made military equipment.
The shipment includes 3,000 rifles with 5 million rounds of ammunition, and 90 sniper rifles with 800,000 rounds of ammunition. The delivery was made at Clark Freeport Zone, a re-development of the former Clark Air Base, which was operated by the U.S. Air Force Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) until 1991.
The weapons shipment, worth some 50 million yuan (US$7.35 million) “highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations”, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said. “We are almost on bended knees sometimes because of lack of equipment. It is a good thing we have a good friend like China who is very understanding,” he added.
China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua has said that this will be followed by a second shipment in the coming months. “The donation is not big but it is big in the sense that it marks a new era in relations between our two militaries,” the ambassador said. “The Chinese side would like to explore the possibility of joint training, intelligence sharing and joint military exercises in the area of fighting terrorism,” he added.
China has also donated 15 million pesos (US $300,000) in relief assistance to Philippines.
The military said on Wednesday that they had found the bodies of 17 civilians killed by the Islamists, self-styled followers of the Islamic State (IS) who have besieged the city of Marawi since May 23. Philippine troops, backed by airstrikes and artillery, have battled for over a month to drive the extremists out of Marawi but the militants have fought back.