China has overtaken Germany to become the world’s third-biggest arms exporter, although its 5 percent share remains small compared to the combined 58 percent of exports from the U.S. and Russia, a new study says.
China’s share of the global arms market rose 143 percent from 2010 to 2014, a period during which the total volume of global arms transfers rose by 16 percent over the previous five years, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report released Monday.
Its share of the world market was up from 3 percent in the 2009-2014 period, when China was ranked ninth among exporters of warplanes, ships, side arms and other weaponry, said the institute, known as SIPRI.
The data show the growing strength of China’s domestic arms industry, now producing fourth-generation fighter jets, navy frigates and a wide-range of relatively cheap, simple and reliable smaller weapons used in conflicts around the globe.
Responding to the study, Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China took a “cautious approach” to arms exports and abided by relevant U.N. resolutions and domestic laws.
“We follow the principle that the export of arms will help increase the recipient country’s legitimate self-defense capabilities and not undermine international or regional peace and stability, and we don’t intervene in their domestic affairs,” Hong said.
China had long been a major importer of weapons, mainly from Russia and Ukraine, but its soaring economy and the copying of foreign technology has largely reversed the trend, except for the most cutting-edge designs and sophisticated parts such as aircraft engines.
China supplies weapons to 35 countries, led by Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, SIPRI said.
Chinese sales included those of armored vehicles and transport and trainer aircraft to Venezuela, three frigates to Algeria, anti-ship missiles to Indonesia and unmanned combat aerial vehicles, or drones, to Nigeria, which is battling the Boko Haram insurgency in its north.