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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid