Chinese arms firms make Russian show debut

Global Times
Huang Panyue

For the first time, Chinese arms companies participated in the annual International Military-Technical Forum Army-2018 in Russia in late August, with Chinese experts saying that Chinese weaponry and equipment are becoming more competitive in the international arms market.

"We exhibited weapons and equipment in four major categories - suppression weapons, armored assault vehicles, anti-aircraft hardware and anti-tank weapons," a China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (Norinco) marketing representative, who declined to be named, told the Global Times on Monday.

He said his company showcased the VT4 main battle tank, PLZ-52 155mm self-propelled howitzer, HJ-10 anti-tank missile and Tianlong-50 air defense missile.

A photo released by Norinco's WeChat account on Sunday shows replicas of tanks, armored vehicles and missiles at the company's booth, with videos showcasing the weapons' capabilities.

This is the first time that Norinco took part in the Russian military show, the representative said.

Other Chinese companies, including China Electronics Corporation (CEC), one of the largest Chinese computer hardware and telecoms equipment manufacturers, and Shandong-based IRay Technology Corporation, a company which specializes in infrared thermal imaging, also participated in the show, Russian news agency Sputnik News reported on Wednesday.

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday that taking part in the Russian military show is an indication that Chinese arms companies are becoming more competitive in the international arms market.

"Chinese weaponry and equipment are relatively cost effective, and the international market is recognizing them," Song said.

China used to purchase weapons from Russia, but Russia is not developing weapons as much as before due to its declining economic strength, Song noted.

The International Military-Technical Forum Army is an annual event organized by the Russian Defense Ministry. The Army-2018 show was held from August 21 to Sunday in Moscow, the show's website said.

Russia's alternative

Sputnik reported on Wednesday that Russia invited the Chinese arms companies to the show to sell China's equipment to their Russian partners amid US sanctions against the Russian arms industry.

Technology exports from Western countries to Russia have been restricted, which has made Russia turn to Chinese military equipment, as there are no restrictions, an IRay Technology Corporation representative told Sputnik.

Some reports said that China is not focusing on selling weapons and equipment at the show, but to help Russia deal with the US sanctions.

However, Song believes that Chinese arms companies are focused on the business side.

"It is natural for Chinese companies to take part in an international military show…China wants its weapons to gain international recognition, including those from developing countries," Song said.

China's share of global arms exports rose from 3.8 percent in 2012 to 6.2 percent in 2016, making China the third-largest arms supplier in the world after the US and Russia, the news website of the People's Liberation Army reported in February, citing data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The website also said the reasons behind China's transformation from an arms buyer to the third-largest supplier of weapons are that the country has a developed industrial system, provides customers with many options, is advanced in weapons designs, provides flexible payments and does not set sales barriers for political reasons.

The show is mainly open to members of the Commonwealth of the Independent States and former Soviet countries, and China wanted to gain a foothold in these countries, Song explained.

Chinese weapons and equipment enhance the Russian show, which is good for both sides, Song said.

More cutting-edge Chinese weapons and equipment are expected to enter the international market, Song said.


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