China has become the world's fifth-largest arms exporter, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
China replaces Britain in the top five arms-dealing countries between 2008 and 2012, a group dominated by the United States and Russia, which accounted for 30 percent and 26 percent of weapons exports, SIPRI said Monday March 13.
Germany and France ranked third and fourth on the arms exporter list.
"China is establishing itself as a significant arms supplier to a growing number of important recipient states," Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program, said in a statement.
Commenting on the SIPRI report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was a responsible arms exporter which strictly adhered to international law.
"On arms exports, China sticks to three principles. First, that it is conducive to the recipient country's justifiable self-defense needs. Second, it does not damage regional and global peace, security and stability. Third, it does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs," Reuters quoted him as saying.
Chinese attack helicopters, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and air defenses were on public show for the first time at the Zhuhai air show in southern China in November 2017.
The SIPRI report showed China delivered major
arms to 48 countries in the past five years, with Pakistan topping the list,
followed by Bangladesh and Algeria.
"Pakistan - which accounted for 55 percent of Chinese arms exports - is likely to remain the largest recipient of Chinese arms in the coming years due to large outstanding and planned orders for combat aircraft, submarines and frigates," SIPRI said.
Myanmar received 8 percent of China's weapons exports. Bangladesh received 7 percent of the arms while Algeria, Venezuela and Morocco have bought Chinese-made frigates, aircraft or armored vehicles in the past several years.
After decades of steep increases in military spending and cash injections into domestic contractors, experts say some Chinese-made equipment is now comparable to Russian or Western counterparts.
Chinese military drones in UAE
Defense analysts believe that the Chinese drone, the Wing Loong II, is now being used by the United Arab Emirates military while the UAE remains barred from buying weaponized drones from the United States, the Associated Press reports.
That purchase, as well as Abu Dhabi hosting the drone exhibition and conference last month in the Emirati capital, shows the power these weapons now hold across the Middle East, the AP said.
Top UAE officials, including Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were on hand for the drone conference, held last month.
Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi, which hosts some of the 5,000 American troops in the UAE, is also home to some of the US military's unmanned aircraft that flew missions over Iraq and Syria.