China has surpassed Britain as the world’s fifth-largest arms exporter, a Swedish think tank said yesterday.
The volume of Chinese weapons exports rose by 162 percent in the five years from 2008 to last year, compared with the previous five-year period, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its report. That means China’s share of all international arms exports increased to 5 percent from 2 percent, and the country climbed to fifth from eighth in the rankings.
The largest buyer of Chinese weapons was Pakistan, which accounted for 55 percent of China’s exports, followed by Myanmar with 8 percent and Bangladesh with 7 percent, SIPRI said.
“China’s rise has been driven primarily by large-scale arms acquisitions by Pakistan,” said Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. “However, a number of recent deals indicate that China is establishing itself as a significant arms supplier to a growing number of important recipient states.”
They include the sale of three frigates to Algeria, eight transport aircraft to Venezuela and 54 tanks to Morocco, SIPRI said.
The US remained the world’s top arms exporter from 2008 to last year, with 30 percent of the global volume. Russia was second with 26 percent, Germany third with 7 percent and France fourth with 6 percent, SIPRI said.
Britain, now in sixth place, dropped off the list of the top five for the first time since at least 1950, the earliest year covered by SIPRI data.
The institute said Asia dominated the global imports of weapons, with the top five importers all from the region. They were: India (12 percent), China (6 percent), Pakistan (5 percent), South Korea (5 percent) and Singapore (4 percent).
Asked about the report, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said China was a responsible arms exporter that strictly adhered to international law.
“On arms exports, China sticks to three principles. First, that it is conducive to the recipient country’s justifiable self-defense needs. Second, it does not damage regional and global peace, security and stability. Third, it does not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” he told reporters.