Philippines military says it may use donated Chinese arms in Marawi
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Philippines military says it may use donated Chinese arms in Marawi

THE ARMED FORCES of the Philippines (AFG) has said it may use weapons and ammunitions donated by China in the fight against Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City as the fighting enters its seventh week.

China donated a shipment of more than 3000 assault and sniper rifles along with ammunition on Wednesday worth US$7.35 million, which the AFG suggests it is likely will be used on the battlefield in Mindanao against Islamic State-inspired militants.

“Our troops will have no difficulty in using these weapons as their operation is really very simple,” said spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, as quoted by the state Philippine News Agency on Saturday.

But Padilla said that the military is inventorying the arms before they can be distributed to the field. “We need to record them. These are thousands but they come by lot numbers and there are records, so it’s not going to be long before we are able to ship them [to Marawi],” he said.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte prior to their bilateral meeting during the Belt and Road Forum, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China May 15, 2017. Source: Reuters/Etienne Oliveau/Pool

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Duterte said that the Chinese donation of arms to help in the fight against the Maute group “highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations.”

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on Friday Thursday that relations between the two countries had entered a “golden period,” with President Rodrigo Duterte courting the Asian superpower for investment and business interests.

The transfer of firearms was previously discussed when Duterte met President Xi Jinping during a state visit last October.

China has become the Philippines’ largest trade partner for the first time, after the president took power last June.