New research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) suggests that China is the second-largest arms producer in the world, behind the United States but ahead of Russia.

This research represents the most comprehensive picture of Chinese companies’ weapons production to date.

The top countries by arms sales are the US, China, the UK and Russia.

SIPRI say that in the pasta lack of transparency has meant that the value of Chinese companies’ arms sales has been either unknown or difficult to reliably estimate. For this reason, the SIPRI Top 100—an annual ranking of the world’s 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies—has so far not been able to include Chinese arms companies.

The organisation say that based on estimated arms sales in 201517, the four major Chinese arms companies chosen for the study can now finally be compared with the major arms companies from the rest of the world.

In 2017, of the 20 largest companies in the SIPRI Top 100, 11 were based in the USA, 6 in Western Europe and 3 in Russia.

“If the four Chinese arms companies investigated in the study were included in the Top 100, they would all rank among the top 20, with combined estimated arms sales totalling $54.1 billion. Three of the companies would be ranked in the top 10.

The largest of the Chinese companies is Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which with arms sales totalling $20.1 billion would rank sixth largest in the world. China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), which would place eighth in the Top 100 with sales of $17.2 billion, is in fact the world’s largest producer of land systems.”

The organisation also issue a word of caution, advising that these new estimates are most likely still an underestimate. A lack of transparency in the arms sales figures of Chinese arms companies continues to hinder a complete understanding of China’s arms industry.

This new research, however, acts as an important scoping study that opens the possibility for further research and prepares the ground for a fuller estimate of Chinese arms sales.

Read the full report here.

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Andy P
Andy P
1 year ago

An interesting read, thanks George. I’m sort of slightly surprised that the UK is still up there, there has been a fair bit of pressure to reduce the UK’s arms dealing. Personally pointless in my view, if we’re not going to sell them someone else will so it comes down to hand wringing over pragmatism but that’s the way of things at the moment. As long as its not in ‘our’ name….

1 year ago
Reply to  Andy P

From the reports coming out of Libya and Yemen, especially in regards of the Chinese UAVs, is that they are rubbish and don’t last more than few sorties before something breaks on them. It seems the Chinese are very good and fast at getting products off the drawing board, but in doing so their quality is a lot to be desired.

1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Lmao, according to reports from Libya and Yemen, these Chinese UAVs are very good. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are buying a large number of Chinese UAVs. Saudi Arabia even purchased production lines from China to produce 200 licensed production UAVs in home