China’s defence budget is already more than three times that of India’s.(AP Photo)
China’s defence budget is already more than three times that of India’s.(AP Photo)

Strained ties with India, other nations lead to dip in China's weapon export: Report

An article on Foreign Policy has analysed why China's weapon export has plunged. It said that snazzy weapons mean a lot less if you don't have friends and this is why the world doesn't want Beijing's fighter jets.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 04, 2021 10:11 AM IST

China's rise as a super power has always been under global scrutiny. Many countries in the West, as well as smaller countries, have raised concerns about China's handling of issues. It is involved in a stalemate with the United States, particularly over the origin of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands across the globe.

The cautious approach is what has led to various countries going slow with importing the weapons made by China, especially the fighter jets.

According to a report in Foreign Policy, and quoted by news agency ANI, after last month's confrontation with the Philippines, where Chinese naval vessels entered Philippine waters without authorisation, few want to partner up with Beijing.

China is involved in a border standoff with India in Ladakh, leading to deterioration of bilateral ties, said Foreign Policy. Though it has imported weapons from other countries, India won't consider China for the same, the magazine said. Ditto for Vietnam, with its worsening maritime dispute with China. Malaysia and Indonesia are also too wary of Beijing's ambitions to ever consider acquiring a Chinese fighter, reported Foreign Policy.

A report released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) earlier this year said that India is increasingly becoming self-reliant under its Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme, which is showing results.

India’s arms imports fell 33% between 2011-15 and 2016-20, the Sipri report said. In the same period, China's exports fell 7.8%.

The Foreign Policy article said that snazzy weapons mean a lot less if you don't have friends and this is why the world doesn't want Beijing's fighter jets, according to ANI.

China has made great strides in improving its state-owned aerospace technology base, particularly in the military realm. It has made aircraft like J-10, J-10C and FC-31.

But between 2000 and 2020, China exported just USD 7.2 billion worth of military aircraft, according to Sipri arms transfers database.

The United States stayed safely on top, exporting USD 99.6 billion, and Russia stayed in the second slot at USD 61.5 billion. Even France's aircraft exports doubled China's, at USD 14.7 billion.

The only country which is relying on China for weapons is Pakistan. Beijing accounted for 74% of Islamabad’s military imports during the last five years, up from 61% in 2011-15.

The best explanation for this failure is China's foreign policy. The Philippines is a perfect illustration of why China's fighter export ambitions have stalled, the article in the magazine said.

According to Foreign Policy, this pattern of failure speaks to more than just a problem with sharp elbows. First, it shows a lack of commercial soft power. Fighter sales often involve a trade relationship, since they tend to include commercial offsets - or economic sweeteners such as market access or technology transfer that are designed to mitigate some of the expense of a weapons package, the Foreign Policy article said.

But China's relatively closed economic system means that potential customers with export-oriented economies have little to gain, since China wants to be a globally dominant export manufacturer and certainly doesn't want to increase its intake of imported manufactured goods.

It has little interest in preserving the status quo in Asia, few qualms about territorial expansion, and next to no record of supporting allies in times of crisis, said Foreign Policy.

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