Most reliable estimates to date . . .
The Sweden-headquartered Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent organization focused on global security research, has released a report on Chinese arms production and sales. SIPRI says that its new data on four Chinese companies in three sectors – aerospace, electronics, and land systems and shipbuilding – from 2015 to 2017 provide the most comprehensive picture of China’s weapons production to date. This is the first time SIPRI has included China in its report because a lack of transparency and information has made it difficult to reliably estimate, and therefore compare, the capacity of Chinese companies.
China now world’s second largest arms producer . . .
SIPRI found that China is the world’s second-largest arms producer behind the United States and ahead of Russia. If this new data from the four Chinese companies was added to SIPRI’s 2017 list of the 100 top arms producers, all four would be in the top 20 and three would be ranked in the top 10 – Aviation Industry Corporation of China (US$20B in sales), China North Industries Group Corporation (US$17.2B in sales), and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (US$12.2B in sales). SIPRI’s data shows that Aviation is the world’s third-largest aircraft producer, China North is the world’s largest land systems producer (with 240,000 employees), and China Electronics has the highest number of research employees of these three companies (93,000).
Numbers still don’t add up . . .
Part of the challenge of tracking the arms sales of Chinese producers is that such numbers are generally not listed in annual reports, audit reports, or elsewhere. While SIPRI’s data cover at least one Chinese company in each of the three major sectors, it does not cover shipbuilding companies due to a lack of reliable company-specific information. But SIPRI estimates that the two largest Chinese military shipbuilders are as large or larger than those of their American or European counterparts and would likely rank in the list of top 20 arms producers.