Asian Nations Top Arms Buyers; China Seen as Threat

Posted April 18th, 2012 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Russia's state agency for arms sales says Asian nations have become Russia's top military technology buyers, a development some arms experts blame on China.

The Rosoboronexport company, part of a Russian delegation to an international arms exhibition in Malaysia, says 43 percent of Russia's arms exports last year were to Asian countries.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said last month the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 44 percent of global arms imports; the top five importers from 2007 to 2011 were India, South Korea, Pakistan, China, and Singapore.

Russian military affairs analyst Maksim Pyatushkin told VOA this week that China's growing economic and military power is prompting its neighbors to upgrade their arms equipment. They often rely on Russian arms to do so.

“Speaking on principle, China's power is provoking neighboring nations' arms renewal. For example, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam all buy Russian arms. Even those nations that are not buying arms from Russia are seeking to acquire arms from other nations. In short, nations neighboring China are all upgrading weapons and equipment.”

Pyatushkin said some Russian-made weapons are more sophisticated than the ones China produces. He said some countries cannot afford to overhaul their entire arms inventory, but may make strategic purchases to improve their defense capability over the long term.

“For example a country like Vietnam, because its financial resources are restricted, they will not make a one-time only purchase of a lot of weapons. They will, however, continuously make small purchases of Russian weapons. Because these countries share a border with China, they want to increase their military strength.”

The deputy director-general of Rosoboronexport, said Russia plans to sell a large order of MiG-17 armed helicopters to India. He said Russia and Malaysia have also been negotiating the purchase of fighter and trainer jets.