Here’s a matter of fact sans any errors or misinformation. China is more than just a top defense spender. But here’s what has commonly made news. If one were to revisit major developments concerning China from the perspective of a global observer- over the course of the past decade and a half- on a conservative side, then the biggest piece of news that has ever emanated from the far-east concerns China’s massive defense spending.
Japan, it’s long-time rival, is aware of the daunting “Chinese threat!” That the two countries continue to be unflinchingly involved in what is often referred to as the “Sino-Japanese” conundrum over a group of uninhabited islands (and maritime disputes) in the South China Sea has concerned the great debaters of our century and formed illustrious notes and talking points in countless diplomatic and geopolitical publications.
That China supports Pakistan in the space of defense and armaments in a bid to undermine the US support to India is no longer a spicy contemporary news headline.
But still, it ought to be reminded that China is more than just a top defense spender in the sense that as a country, it has assumed a great name and space for itself given its growing stature in the realm of exporting arms and weaponry to the larger world.
And perhaps, it’s about time that one comes to accept this reality instead of falling back on what’s been the ‘has-been’: China is more than just a top defense spender.
Today, the same way where one speaks of the United States in lines with any erratic Donald Trump statement or revisits India through PM Modi’s “Make In India” campaign, where one talks of China, one definitely talks about the major role that the oriental country has been playing as a major arms exporter.
Having joined the ranks of top arms exporters from around the world, China has now joined an elite bandwagon that includes some top-notch names- United States, Russia, Germany, and France.
But most importantly, even as the Chinese defense spending is still second only to the US’, perhaps time has come to view the other side of the coin; that China is more than just a top defense spender and that it’s assumed a powerful presence as a top weapons exporter to far-reaching geographia in the world.
Recently, CNBC carried some interesting perspectives in lines with a story that one either often hugely underrates or under-represents in the world media:
China has exported 16.2 billion units of ammunition — mostly to countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa — over the past 12 years, according to SIPRI data (a defense research institute based in Sweden).
Beijing is set to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Communist China on Oct. 1. The country did not open up its economy until 40 years ago and since then quickly became the second-largest in the world.
But all of that said, it’s important to understand what has contributed toward etching a glowing narrative of China’s rise as a leading weapons supplier?
Experts frequently cite that a potential market and loose restrictions especially in the developing world may contribute to further escalating China’s rise as a notable weapons’ supplier to the world.
In fact, implicit in China’s rise as a leading exporter of arms is the way it has contributed in elevating the position of its neighbors by arming them with massive exports. Its highest exports percentage are formed by the likes of Pakistan (exported 6.57 billion units), Bangladesh (1.99 billion units), and Myanmar (1.28 billion units), respectively.
A widely-known defense expert submitted the following explaining the rising cult of China’s position of prominence in defense exports:
“China is likely to continue expanding its arms exports, especially to partner (Belt and Road) countries… Arms exports provides an efficient, lower cost way for China to both improve security in countries featuring major Chinese investments and to minimize spending and commitments by the PLA.