News / Asia

Pakistani Buying of Chinese Arms Makes Beijing 5th Biggest Exporter

A Pakistani military exercise in Karachi March 5, 2013. Pakistan has become increasingly reliant on China as a weapons supplier in recent years.
A Pakistani military exercise in Karachi March 5, 2013. Pakistan has become increasingly reliant on China as a weapons supplier in recent years.
New research shows Pakistan's growing purchases of Chinese military hardware have helped Beijing become the world's fifth biggest exporter of conventional arms, overtaking Britain.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says Pakistan bought 55 percent of China's weapons exports in the years 2008 to 2012. Pakistan and China are longtime allies.

A Pakistani defense analyst says Islamabad's main purchases include Chinese tanks, fighter jets, patrol boats, guns, radars and other communications equipment.

In an interview with VOA, retired Pakistani general Talat Masoud says Islamabad uses Chinese technology to develop home-made weapons with the goal of becoming more self-sufficient. He says it is harder for Pakistan to secure such technology transfers from American and European sources.

"China is a more reliable partner at times of crisis because [Pakistan's] experience is that whenever there has been an escalation of tension with India, or there has been a crisis or a confrontation, the United States and European sources have sanctioned [Pakistani] weapons systems or suspended the transfer of equipment, even if the [Pakistani] contracts were there," said Masoud.

Masoud says Pakistan also has an interest in developing closer bonds with China because both nations perceive their neighbor India as a regional rival.

In its report published Monday, SIPRI says Chinese military exports in 2008 to 2012 jumped 162 percent compared with the previous five-year period. But it says China's share of the global weapons export market is relatively small, at 5 percent.

The United States and Russia remain the world's biggest military exporters, with market shares of 30 percent and 26 percent respectively, followed by Germany with 7 percent and France with 6 percent. But China's rise to fifth place marks the first change in the top five ranking in 20 years.

SIPRI says 8 percent of Chinese arms sales in the latest period went to Burma, another Chinese ally whose government has been fighting an ethnic Kachin rebel insurgency since 2011.

Burma buys Chinese hardware such as training aircraft and anti-ship missiles, but still relies on Russia as its main weapons supplier. The Burmese government has been under a Western arms embargo since its military predecessor crushed a pro-democracy uprising in 1988.

SIPRI arms transfer expert Mark Bromley told VOA that Beijing also is expanding weapons sales to new Chinese markets such as Algeria, Morocco and Venezuela. But he said China faces several obstacles to challenging the dominance of the world's top two military exporters.

"Unlike some of the other big exporters like Russia and the United States, China is very heavily dependent upon one buyer for a large proportion of its exports," said Bromley. "[Also,] there are certain key technologies, particularly aircraft engines, which China has not mastered to the extent of other countries in the top five. It is still reliant particularly on Russian technology in certain key areas. And the other thing to bear in mind is that certain big export markets, particularly India, are obviously closed to China because of [the situation of] China-India relations."

Bromley says China also is subject to U.S. and EU arms embargoes that limit its technological capabilities.

Beijing has been ramping up its military spending as it takes a more assertive stance toward maritime disputes with its Asian neighbors. SIPRI says China is the world's number-two importer of weapons behind India.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded to SIPRI's report by saying Beijing "always takes a responsible and cautious attitude toward arms exports" and follows three principles for such transfers. He said Chinese weapons sales must be justified by the recipient nation's self-defense needs, must not damage peace and security, and must not interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

Beijing does not release arms export figures. SIPRI said its study of global weapons transfers uses data from official sources and media reports.

Kyaw Thein Kha of VOA's Burmese service and Iftikhar Hussain of VOA's Deewa service contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
March 18, 2013 7:45 PM
President Obama keeps on providing billions of dollars of financial assistance to Pakistan so that Pakistan can buy more arms from China. In turn, Pakistan's ISI supply arms to Taliban to attack US forces in Afghanistan. Financial assistance to Pakistan is self inflicted suicide or murder of the US forces and good business for China.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs