China becomes the fifth largest global arms exporter | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 18.03.2013
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China becomes the fifth largest global arms exporter

China has bypassed Britain as the world's fifth largest arms exporter with five percent of the global trade, according to a Swedish think tank. Beijing’s largest buyer of weapons is Pakistan.

China has become the world's fifth largest arms exporter with five percent of the global trade, its highest position since the Cold War, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released in a report on Monday.

In the five years between 2008-2012, the volume of Chinese weapons exports rose by 162 percent, compared to the previous five-year period, the SIPRI report said.

As a result, China's share of all international arms exports increased from 2 percent to 5 percent, climbing up from eighth in the rankings.

The largest purchaser of Chinese weapons was Pakistan, which accounted for 55 percent of the country's exports, followed by Myanmar with 8 percent and Bangladesh with 7 percent, the report 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."

Some of those deals include the sale of three warships to Algeria, eight transport aircraft to Venezuela and 54 tanks to Morocco, the report said.

China, which does not release arms export figures, has boosted its domestic weapons production since western military import bans that followed the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

The US remained the world's top arms exporter during the 2008-2012 period, with 30 percent of the global volume. Russia came in second with 26 percent, followed by Germany in third with 7 percent, and France fourth with 6 percent, SIPRI said.

Overall, the global arms trade grew by 17 percent in 2008-2012 over the previous period.

According to the report, it is the first time Britain has not been in the top five weapons suppliers since 1950, the earliest year covered by SIPRI data.

The institute said Asia dominated the global imports of weapons, with the top five importers all located in that region.

hc/dr (AP, AFP)