Chinese Arms Transfers: Purposes, Patterns, and Prospects in the New World Order

By R. Bates Gill | Go to book overview
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to be addressed. How do PRC arms transfers relate to PRC security and to its foreign relations? Put another way, we are brought once more to the queries forwarded at the outset of this study: Why has the PRC decided to enter the arms market with such intensity, and what will this mean for PRC security and that of China's neighbors in the years ahead?


Looking to the future of PRC arms transfers, we are reminded of the geopolitical, economic, and technological factors that affect the international arms market overall. China too will be affected by these factors. China could be forced to assume a much lower profile as an arms exporter in the years ahead, or it could position itself to maintain and expand its weapons exports in the future. Given American geopolitical dominance, China may find itself under pressure from Washington to curtail its weapons exports, or China could emerge as an attractive alternate source of weapons as Washington and Moscow become increasingly cooperative with one another. Economic imperatives may force the producers of Chinese weapons to diversify away from military hardware, or they may be compelled to adopt more aggressive weapons export policies. Technological considerations may make Chinese weapons hopelessly inferior to those of other more developed exporters, or China may develop a niche to export cheaper, less advanced (but nonetheless lethal) weapons, while steadily improving its weapons' capabilities through the global diffusion of technology and the receipt of upgrade and retrofit packages for its existing systems. The directions China takes on these matters will have a profound influence upon the future of Chinese security, as well as that of its neighbors, and of global security as well. But to begin to address these important issues in depth, we first need to familiarize ourselves much more closely with Chinese arms transfers over the past four decades.

These figures are drawn from Michael Brzoska and Thomas Ohlson, Arms Transfers to the Third World, 1971- 1985 ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 1; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, World Armament and Disarmament: SIPRI Yearbook ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), Appendix 7A (hereinafter cited as SIPRI Yearbook followed by the year of the edition). The dollar values are expressed in constant 1985 dollars.
See William H. Baugh and Michael L. Squires, "Developing Patterns in Arms Transfers" (Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Studies Association, Washington, D.C., 12 April 1990), which argues for the measurement of actual arms transfers to quantify the international arms trade.
See William H. Baugh and Michael L. Squires, "Arms Transfers and the Onset of War, Part I: Scalogram Analysis of Transfer Patterns", InternationalInteractions


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Chinese Arms Transfers: Purposes, Patterns, and Prospects in the New World Order


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