Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report published on Monday that China has almost doubled its weapons exports over the past five years. The report also found that the country’s arms imports also fell by 25 percent during the same period, compared to the previous five years.
The drop in the volume of arms import underlined the growing confidence in the domestic weaponry industry, according to SIPRI. In 2011-15, the Chinese exports of major arms, excluding light weaponry, increased by 88 percent as against the earlier five years.
However, China is still well behind the US and Russia in terms of weapons exports and accounts for only 5.9 percent of the global arms exports.
“The Chinese until ten years ago were only able to offer low-tech equipment. That has changed,” the Reuters quoted Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, as saying. “The equipment that they produce is much more highly advanced than ten years ago, and attracts interest from some of the bigger markets.”
During the same period, the weapons exports in the US shot up by 27 percent while for Russia it was higher, at 28 percent, the Daily Star reported.
“China continues to expand its military capabilities with imported and domestically produced weapons,” Wezeman said in the report.
He added that neighbouring countries like India and Vietnam are also stepping up their military capabilities. “Neighbouring states such as India, Vietnam and Japan are also significantly strengthening their military forces,” he said.
Asia and Oceania are mostly the buyers of arms from China, with Pakistan accounting for 35 percent, closely followed by Bangladesh and Myanmar. The close military ties between China and Pakistan have often incited tensions with India, which is also trying to boost its home grown weaponry.
However, the report also found that China still needs to import large transport aircraft, helicopters and engines for aircraft, vehicles and ships.