Newest survey by much valued Swedish think-tank showed that China emerged as the world’s fifth-largest arms exporter, thereby bypassing the UK. The China’s improved capacity to construct desired and respected weapons demonstrates its economic and military stance as well.
China as arms exporter
On the 18th of March, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released its survey showing that China became the fifth arms exporter in the world between 2008 -2012, thereby replacing the UK in the ranking. Gathered data indicated that China saw its arms exports climb astonishing 162 percent from the previous period while the global exports surged around 17 percent. In the same five-year period, China witnessed a staggering 47 percent slump in its weapon imports as the country became less dependent on imports with its blooming arms production. Indeed, China spent much more money on its armed forces as it military budget jumped by approximately 11.8 percent in the 2001 – 2011 period.
While the China’s arms and ammunition exports increased outstanding 162 percent, its share of the global arms trade surged to 5 percent between 2008 and 2012, compared to a 2 percent share in the previous period, according to the findings of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Apart from China, the US, Russia, Germany and France were the top arms exporters which in fact is not unexpected. The United States remained the leader of the ranking with a 30 percent share in the global arms trade in the surveyed period. Russia’s weapons exports accounted for around 26 percent, leaving far behind Germany with its 7 percent and France with 6 percent of the global volume. What is interesting is the fact that the UK was surpassed by China and was pushed out of the top five for the first time since 1950.
The emergence of China as the fifth arms exporter was certainly a surprise for many analysts, however it is a clear signal of the might of the world’s second economy.
Clients of China
Chinese arms are much more interesting for international clients as they are simply cheaper. Certainly, development of advanced military technologies was the main driver of the increased interest in Chinese weapons, just to mention JF-17 combat jets. But that was possible just because China started a struggle to reduce its dependence on arms imports.
In addition, all these would have not been possible without promoting its products and China did its homework advertising its JF-17 combat jets, L-15 jet trainer aircraft and various missiles.
According to gathered data, Pakistan was the largest buyer of Chinese weapons as its purchases amounted to as much as 55 percent of China’s arms exports. Myanmar and Bangladesh were also top clients of China with 8 percent and 7 percent respectively. Paul Holton, of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme, underlined: "China's rise has been driven primarily by large-scale arms acquisitions by Pakistan," adding that the world’s second economy eyed possibilities of expanding the range of its clients. Indeed, China secured deals with Algeria, Venezuela and Morocco.
And while China emerged as one of the world’s top weapon exporters, it was the world’s second largest arms importer just after India. Taking into account China’s steps aimed at reducing its dependence of arms imports and expanding its exports, we can expect revolutionary changes in the weapons market.