How China weaponizes overseas arms sales
Although China still lags behind the US in terms of arms exports, the country is exporting more weapons to an increasing number of countries as part of its strategy to increase its influence across the globe while challenging that of the United States.
China’s arms exports have increased dramatically over the past twenty years and between 2014 and 2018 it accounted for 5.2% of global arms sales, making it the fourth largest exporter. Over that same period, it provided weapons to 53 countries, a significant increase over 2009-2013 when it exported to 41 countries. China has greatly expanded its ‘product line’ and has been incredibly successful in exporting weaponized drones.
According to arms export analyst Richard A Bitzinger, China is increasingly capable of shaping the emerging great power arms competition with the United States “not only through its military-technological development and diffusion of arms exports, but more importantly, through its strategic choices that influence the contours of alliances and military advantage in different geographic areas.”