Beijing has not only become a major defense lender but increasingly analysts say China is also turning into a top arms exporter.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data published in March, in the past five years, China was one of the largest exporters, along with the United States, Russia, France and Germany, and China. Those countries accounted for three-quarters of the total volume of weapons exported, the data showed.
According to SIPRI data, China has exported 16.2 billion units of ammunition in the last 12 years, mostly to countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Beijing is set to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Communist China in October. 1. The country did not open its economy until 40 years ago and since then it became the second-largest company in the world.
Export for belt and road partners:
Timothy Heath, the senior international defense researcher at the Rand Corporation, a California-based policy think tank, said that “potential markets” in developing countries and “loosened restrictions” in developing countries would do well to make China “one of the world’s largest arms exporters” Can deploy “.
According to SIPRI, since 2007, China’s top arms export countries by total units are Pakistan (6.57 billion units), Bangladesh (1.99 billion units) and Myanmar (1.28 billion units). The three countries are part of China’s global development strategy – the Belt and Road Initiative.
According to SIPRI calculations, in 2018 alone, China sold 75 million units in Bangladesh, Myanmar 105 million units and Pakistan 448 million units.
“China looks forward to expanding its arms exports, particularly to partner (belt and road) countries … Arms exports provide an efficient, low-cost route to China, both of which lead to major Chinese investments. Improves security and reduces spending and commitments by the PLA, ”Heath explained.
To put things in perspective, Chinese traditional weapons makeup only 3% of the weapons import market in North and South America, said Roy Kamphausen, president of the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), a Seattle-based nonprofit research institute. He said the market was dominated by the US (19%), Russia (14%), and Germany (12%).
China has positioned itself as a low-cost alternative to advanced weapon systems, and Russian hardware’s main rival, Kompon, wrote in an email to CNBC.
According to SIPRI data, Chinese arms exports increased, while Russian exports declined in the last five years.
Compassion also said that Russia’s “no equal wire” rule of arms sales “is another reason that there will be fierce competition between Moscow and Beijing.
China is still growing in its role as a major arms dealer, but it affects Beijing’s current position as the top defense lender.
Second, for the United States only, China produces a large-scale defense budget, estimated in 2018 by SIPRI at $ 250 billion. The US Department of Defense similarly estimated that China spent nearly $ 200 billion on defense last year.
Beijing’s official estimates are more modest. The Ministry of National Defense said that its 2018 budget increased by 8.1% year on year to 1.11 trillion yuan, about $ 175 billion.
The Pentagon’s view on the difference between external projections and official figures is that “China’s published military budget excludes several major categories of expenditure, including R&D and foreign arms purchases.”
For 2019, the Ministry of National Defense stated that the budget for military spending is expected to increase by 7.5% to 1.19 trillion yuan, about $ 177.6 billion. According to a written announcement in Chinese, this is the fourth consecutive year of 2019 single-digit budget development.
Although Beijing said its defense budget growth is slow, China is not planning to cut its national defense budget. But China is currently facing increasing pressure for social welfare programs as the population ages, Rand’s Health has said.
“The cost of maintaining expensive platforms such as aircraft carriers and stealth aircraft, as well as the costs required to maintain skilled personnel, will make it difficult to cut defense spending,” he said.
On the other hand, NBR’s Kampheson said that he believed the People’s Liberation Army would be affected by the overall economic downturn to keep defense spending stable as a percentage of Beijing’s total economic expenditure.
But despite the slowing pace of growth of the world’s second-largest economy, Heath said Beijing would likely maintain its budget position.
“But, if leaders prioritize defense spending more, there is certainly bandwidth to increase the defense budget and still be below the level of defense spending as a percentage of total government spending in competing countries.”
To be sure, China’s military spending is still low compared to the United States. Washington is still far ahead of Beijing in terms of equipment and weapons – but China has been eager to close that gap.
Over the past 24 years, China has continued to inject more money into its national defense budget. “US defense spending has increased for the first time, along with an increase in defense spending throughout Asia and Oceania,” Heath said.
“This demonstrates that China’s growing military power is raising concern in Asia and prompting the US and other countries to strengthen their defenses in response,” he said.
In June, the US State Department approved the sale of weapons requested by Taiwan, with tank and stinger missiles valued at approximately $ 2.2 billion. China later responded by saying that it would impose sanctions on American companies involved in such a deal.
The following month, CNBC and NBC reported that China conducted a series of anti-ship ballistic missile tests in contested waters. Despite international warnings, China continues to strengthen its hold in the South China Sea.
China has made its claims on a large part of its resource-rich South China Sea, which extends about 1,000 miles from its southern shores. Parts of the waterway – one of the busiest in the world, have also been claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.
A senior Colonel Zhou Bo of the People’s Liberation Army said that “the three-day security forum Shangri-La Dialogue to be held in Singapore requires China to make necessary defenses about these islands and reefs that we believe are Chinese territories”.