China has surpassed Germany to become the world’s third largest arms exporter, a Stockholm-based think tank said in a report on Monday.
China’s military spending has seen double-digit growth for decades, and Beijing has poured funds into modernizing its armed forces as it takes a more assertive stance on territorial disputes in the region.
Exports of major arms from the world’s second largest economy grew 143 percent over the years 2010 to 2014, versus the previous five-year period, when China had ranked ninth globally, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report.
“Asian countries continue to expand their military capabilities, with an emphasis on maritime assets,” Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, said in a news release.
More than 68 percent of Chinese exports went to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Beijing also sold major arms to 18 African states.
The volume of US exports of major weapons rose by 23 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. The USA’s share of the volume of international arms exports was 31 per cent in 2010–14, compared with 27 per cent for Russia. Russian exports of major weapons increased by 37 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. During the same period, Chinese exports of major arms increased by 143 per cent, making it the third largest supplier in 2010–14, however still significantly behind the USA and Russia.
‘The USA has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool, but in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the US arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing US military expenditure’, said Dr Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.
Analysts say Chinese-made equipment has found eager buyers among countries at odds with the United States and its allies.