Why China Can’t Build Submarines for Thailand

China undertook to build Yuan S26T class submarines with German engines for Thailand, but the production was hit by European sanctions

Why China Can’t Build Submarines for Thailand

Both abroad and in Russia itself, it is widely believed that after the start of the Russian Armed Forces’ special operation in Ukraine, the entire world condemned the Kremlin, collectively imposed comprehensive sanctions on the country and is waiting for a change in the chosen political course. However, the collective West, which is used to masterminding the planet, is not the whole world, and Russia is not the first or last state to come under pressure because of its independent position.

Beijing’s attempts to protect its sovereignty have also led to sanctions from the West — not as severe as in the case of Moscow, but no less unfortunate. For example, the package of measures adopted by the European Union against China completely bans the supply of any military equipment or components manufactured in EU countries. German submarine engines also fall under this requirement.

Meanwhile, the Chinese shipbuilding company CSOC signed a contract with Thailand in 2017 to build Yuan S26T-class submarines, the first of which should be equipped with propulsion systems from Germany.

As the Thai Navy explained to the Bangkok Post, every effort has been made to obtain supplies of German MTU396 diesel engines. However, they remained without the desired result. The Chinese company also admitted that it had held meetings with the German manufacturer and used diplomatic channels, but had made no progress in resolving the crisis.

In this regard, the Thai military was offered to switch to the Chinese CHD620 propulsion system, but they refused, putting forward four conditions: the engine must be certified for use in accordance with high standards; the product must pass safety tests; get a guarantee for after-sales service; and meet the Thai navy’s requirements.

Thailand disagrees because the Chinese-made diesel engine has never been operated in any country in the world at this time, - the publication noted.

In April 2021, Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha warned that he would cancel the purchase of submarines from China if Beijing did not fulfill the contract, especially regarding submarine engines. With European sanctions preventing the PRC from building submarines for Thailand, the publication predicts that the agreement will break soon.