Monday, October 21, 2013

China leans (lightly) on South Korea to withhold jet sale

Republic of Korea Air Force KAI TA-50 Golden Eagle. (Credit Unknown)

This is interesting. South Korean press is reporting that China has leaned (albeit lightly) on South Korea to reconsider a proposed sale of KAI F/A-50 light combat jets to the Philippines. The reports say that while the South Korean government officially denies the reports, officials privately admit that this is happening. China and the Philippines are two of six claimants to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, and both countries have been prominent in sparring publicly and diplomatically over their respective claims.

China is South Korea's largest trading partner and South Korea is China's third largest, and both countries currently enjoy cordial bilateral ties. South Korea is extremely keen to secure an export success for the jet, which has lost a number of competitions in its T-50 trainer guise. However, both it and China would be loathe to see relations deteriorate, so this would unlikely to blow up into anything bigger.

Of course bigger powers leaning on smaller countries to bar arms sales is not a new thing, and China has been on the receiving end of the practice as well, most notably when the United States successfully lobbied Israel to scrap a sale of Phalcon Airborne Early Radars to China. It's also not the first time China is dishing it out, with virtually no country willing to any partake in major arms sales to Taiwan out of fear of economic and diplomatic repercussions from China.

UPDATE: James Hardy from IHS Janes has just reported that both countries have inked an accord (article partially paywalled) related to the F/A-50 sale.

No comments:

Post a Comment