China has become the fifth largest exporter of major conventional weapons worldwide, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Moving above the UK, it marks the first time that China has entered the top five on the list. The UK had been inside the top five since SIPRI began recording data in 1950.
Data on international arms transfers released on Monday show that international sales of major conventional weapons grew by 17% between 2003–2007 and 2008–2012.
Between 2008 and 2012, the five largest suppliers of major conventional weapons were the United States (30% of global arms exports), Russia (26%), Germany (7%), France (6%) and China (5%).
Chinese exports of major conventional weapons rose in volume by 162% between 2003–2007 and 2008–2012.
“Primarily, China’s rise has been driven by arms acquisitions by Pakistan,” said Dr Paul Holtom, Director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
According to the SIPRI report, countries from Asia and Oceania have accounted for 47% of global imports of major conventional weapons in the period 2008–2012.
India (12%), China (6%), Pakistan (5%), South Korea (5%) and Singapore (4%) make up the top five importers of major conventional weapons worldwide.
On the other hand, austerity has hit the European arms market: sales to European countries fell by 20% between 2003–2007 and 2008–2012.
Among European countries cutting their weapons budgets are Italy and the Netherlands, which reduced their orders for American-built F-35 combat aircraft. At the same time, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania did not order newly produced combat aircraft, preferring instead second-hand options.
Interesting developments include:
- Russia accounted for 71% of exports of major weapons to Syria in 2008–2012.
- The Arab states of the Gulf accounted for 7% of world arms imports in 2008–2012.
- Venezuela’ s rearmament programme continued in 2012. Russia accounted for 66% of transfers to the Latin American country, followed by Spain and China (both 12%).
- Weapon imports made by North African states increased by 350 per cent between 2003–2007 and 2008–2012.
- Greece’s arms imports fell by 61% between 2003–2007 and 2008–12. The country fell from the number four importer to number 15. During the period from 2006 to 2010, Greece was the top recipient of German arms exports and the third largest recipient of French arms exports.