China is not only scaling up its defence capabilities at a rapid pace, but also consolidating its position as a major weapons supplier in the international market.
Two weeks after it hiked its defence spending by 10.7% to Rs. 5,94,000 crore, China broke into an exclusive club of five largest exporters of conventional arms worldwide.
Data released by well-known Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday revealed that China had joined the likes of the US, Russia, Germany and France as the fifth-largest arms supplier in the world during 2008-12.
China has leapt past the UK to occupy that slot, knocking it out of that club for the first time in over six decades.
And it is Pakistan that has helped China attain this feat. Islamabad accounted for 55% of Chinese arms exports during the last five years. That figure will only spiral upwards in the coming years, with Pakistan await ing the supply of more fighter jets and warships from China.
SIPRI data on international arms transfers showed that there had been a 162% increase in China’s weapons exports between 2003-07 and 2008-12. Its share of the volume of global arms exports rose from 2% to 5% during that period.
Strategic affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd) said, “The Chinese have had a grand strategy since 1991 when the Soviet Union disintegrated. They got thousands of technologists and scientists from there to give impetus to their defence sector. We have wasted 22 years.”
India hardly has any standing as an arms exporting country. The government has imposed strict licencing conditions on arms exports, despite demands to ease norms from the private sector.