China has become the world’s third largest weapons exporters with Pakistan emerging as the top recipient of its arms, according to a report from a leading think tank on Monday.
Communist China, which has the world’s largest armed forces, nearly doubled its arms exports in the past 10 years, said the report on global arms trade by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Beijing is now capable of producing advanced weapons and is less dependent on imports.
With its 5.9% share of the global arms market, China is still dwarfed by the US and Russia but Beijing’s clout is clearly increasing and Islamabad is making the most of it.
“Pakistan was the main recipient of Chinese exports, accounting for 35%, followed by Bangladesh and Myanmar, accounting for 20% and 16% respectively (all three states are neighbours of India, the leading importer of arms in the region),” the report said.
China is scheduled to transfer eight submarines to Pakistan and two more to Bangladesh, the report said.
Beijing and Islamabad are key allies who describe themselves as “all-weather friends”, and the SIPRI report indicates a further strengthening of their military ties.
China, reports say, has aided Pakistan to set up its nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes, besides supplying conventional arms.
The report further said India continued to be the largest importer of major arms in 2011-15, accounting for 14% of the global total. “In 2011-15 India’s imports were three times greater than those of either of its regional rivals: China and Pakistan,” it said.
Unlike India, which has failed to produce “competitive indigenously designed weapons”, China has become increasingly capable of producing advanced hardware, the report said. China imported 25% less arms between 2006-10 and 2011-15.
“While in the early-2000s China was by far the largest importer, it dropped to third place in 2011-15,” the report said.
It added: “However, China remains partly dependent on imports for some key weapons and components, including large transport aircraft and helicopters, and engines for aircraft, vehicles and ships.”
In 2015, China signed orders for air defence systems and 24 combat jets from Russia, indicating that it is “not yet self-sufficient in those categories”. China’s largest supplier was Russia, which accounted for 59% of the imports, followed by France with 15% and Ukraine with 14%.
In coming years, China’s dependence on imported arms is expected to further decrease as it leaders invest billions of dollars to develop the home-grown weapons industry.
China’s military budget in 2015 was more than 886 billion Yuan ($141.45 billion), 10% more than the year before.
The report said the ﬁve biggest weapons exporters in 2011-15 were the US, Russia, China, France and Germany, accounting for 74% of total exports. Combined, the US and Russia supplied 58% of all exports.
“The ﬁve biggest importers in 2011-15 were India, Saudi Arabia, China, the UAE and Australia. Together, they received 34% of all arms imports,” the report added.