Report: China ranked world’s second-largest arms maker, behind US
Stockholm — China is the world’s second-largest arms maker, after the United States, with at least four Chinese arms groups generating sufficient sales to be ranked among the world’s top 20 arms sellers, a Swedish-based research institute said on Monday.
The four firms, including China’s largest aircraft maker, Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), had combined sales worth 54.1 billion dollars in 2017, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said, citing new estimates.
AVIC’s arms sales of 20.1 billion dollars in 2017 put the company in sixth place among the world’s arms sellers. US firm Lockheed Martin was that year ranked as the world’s largest with sales of about 43.9 billion dollars.
China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), which makes armoured vehicles, artillery and air defence systems, was the eighth-largest arms producer in 2017, with arms sales of 17.2 billion dollars, SIPRI estimated.
Also listed among the top 20 were China Electronics Technology Group Corp (CETC), which produces sonar, radar annd electronic warfare systems, and China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC), which makes armoured vehicles.
Researchers said they used information gleaned from various sources, including credit rating reports, audit reports and annual reports, to compile their estimates of sales by Chinese arms firms. For instance, civilian parts of operations were subtracted to generate an estimate.
SIPRI researchers investigated the period 2015 to 2017.
The method was necessary since “everything is basically classified,” Nan Tian, researcher with the SIPRI arms and military expenditure programme, told dpa.
The four groups accounted for about a quarter of China’s military spending, which in 2017 was about 228 billion dollars, according to SIPRI estimates.
China has in recent decades aimed to become “self-reliant in the production of advanced weapons,” the report said.
Tian noted that China “used to be very reliant on Russian imports. They are also starting to export more weapons to other buyers.”
This was of some concern due to the lack of transparency and the risk of further arms proliferation, he said.
More data was needed for several other China-based arms makers, including China’s two main shipbuilding companies. Their size would likely also land them spots on the top 20 list, which is dominated by US firms.
Tian said their research suggested that the Chinese shipbuilding firms they studied built more ships than the largest US and European shipbuilders, further cementing China’s second place.
In previous years, SIPRI has said its assessments of defence firms did not include companies in China due to lack of data, but the new figures would be included from this year, Tian said.
The SIPRI Arms Industry Database contains data starting from 2002. SIPRI defines arms sales as “sales of military goods and services to military customers domestically and abroad.”
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