China Arms trade will expand more as a side effect of expanded trade and economic influence than breakthroughs in quality of military gear

The National Interest looked at the future defense market race between Russia and China from the aspect of improving equipment from China. China is developing competitive equipment in the form of J17 and J31 fighters and submarines and tanks. If the gear is not competitive or better than Russian gear than China will not be able to compete for second place in supplying arms.

China’s JF17 fighter is getting some military sales

The other aspect is that there needs to be the correct political and econommic relationship with the countries that will be customers. There is also the aspect of how much will arms importing demand grow or shrink in the major importing countries.

India’s imports will likely stay at a high level. India and many other asian countries will not shift to China as an arms supplier. China would not want to sell arms to countries they might fight and those countries would not want to buy from China.

According to research institute, SIPRI, the volume of international transfers of major weapons in 2010–14 was 16 per cent higher than in 2005–2009. The top 5 recipients—India, Saudi Arabia, China, the UAE and Pakistan—accounted for 33 per cent of the total arms imports during the period. Saudi Arabia and the UAE will likely still buy american, french and british military gear.

China’s development of its one belt one road strategy and investments in Africa are where they could grow the economics and the budgets to buy more arms.

It will be through increases in China’s trade, world economy and global infrastructure projects where China will have thre relationships for increased arms sales.

Russia is the second biggest weapons exporter, as it exports weapons to 56 countries. Its weapon exports to India, China and Algeria make up 60% of the country’s total weapon exports.