China’s arms exports have declined due to poor quality, and weak and inconsistent performance, which puts buyer countries in peril. In the last decade, China’s weaponry exports have dropped by nearly a quarter, according to a report by the Directus.
Furthermore, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is plagued by the issue of low-quality weapons.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China’s arms shipments fell 7.8 per cent between 2016 and 2020 when compared to the preceding five-year period.
Its global market share has shrunk from 5.6 per cent to 5.2 per cent. Demand for Chinese weaponry increased since they were less expensive than competitors’ offerings.
It began to contract, however, after the Chinese armaments failed to perform as promised. “China attracts customers for its military equipment with cutrate pricing and financing, but there are hidden costs – especially when gear malfunctions,” said Cindy Zheng, a researcher at the think tank RAND Corporation. “A lack of technological compatibility with the Chinese military equipment can prove particularly expensive,” the researcher added.
China supplies weapons to over 53 nations, most of which are not markets for big arms suppliers such as the United States or France. 34 Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and African and Middle Eastern countries are major importers of Chinese armaments.
According to Alexander Vuving, professor at the Daniel K Inouye Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, the topic of problems in Chinese military gear has been emphasised.
“China-made weapons are not just technologically inferior, they also remain untested on the battlefield,” he said.
Myanmar expressed concern about the low accuracy of the radar on the Chinese jets it purchased. Due to technical issues, Myanmar grounded the majority of the Chinese jets. Myanmar paid a high price for these Chinese-made jets, but they were still in need of repair four years after they were delivered.
Due to maintenance issues, Nigeria was compelled to send seven of nine Chengdu F-7 fighters to China. Pakistan, China’s all-weather ally, also encountered problems with Chinese-made navy warships. The F-22P frigates had various technical issues, including engine degradation, faulty sensors, and the missile system’s inability to lock on the target.
Collin Koh, a maritime security analyst based in Singapore, stated that importer countries are concerned about the absence of combat testing for most Chinese hardware.
Another difficulty is political tension with China in the case of integration with non-Chinese systems.
“Many countries acquiring Chinese military equipment for the first time are finding that certification standards are lower than in the West, where there are standards of excellence shared by NATO countries, which endorse the certification of technologies,” said Andrei Serbin, a geopolitical intelligence expert and director of the Argentine think tank CRIES. China does not have a system that even comes close.