Despite the fact that in military terms, China still looks like a country that does everything exclusively for the needs of its armed forces, arms exports are gradually becoming an instrument of its political influence.
Since the mid-80s, the Chinese have been buying weapons from everywhere to develop technologies and set up their own military production. Now China is the third largest supplier of weapons and military equipment in the world in terms of sales. According to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Beijing accounts for 5% of the global market. Over the past five years, Chinese exports have increased by 143%, while American and Russian exports have increased by 23% and 37%, respectively.
What do the Chinese sell? These are not only light firearms and artillery systems, but also fighters and drones. So, Myanmar and Nigeria became buyers of the FC-1 fighter, developed on the basis of Russian MiG-21. There is talk of preparing contracts for the sale to Laos and Cambodia of the J-10C fighter, which is a deeply redesigned version of the Su-27.
The main buyers of UAVs are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Nigeria, and even Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (!). Here, China is gradually becoming a leader in both the export of light and heavy shock types. According to the Chinese themselves, last week, "the world's first drone launched from a mobile platform for MLRS" was presented. The Sky Saker FX500 reconnaissance aircraft was created by the Nanjing University of Aviation and Astronautics on the order of NORINCO. It is now being promoted at an arms show in Ivory Coast.
China is actively entering the zones of Russia's traditional interests. Although China's overall military exports are on par with Russia's 12-year-old level, the quality and overall technical level of China's supply is growing rapidly, narrowing the gap between the two countries. All this should give a powerful incentive to increase activity in the defense sector and, above all, in those areas where Russia still remains a world leader.