HONG KONG /XIANGGANG/, March 14. /TASS/. A major drop in China’s arms exports could be a sign that the country is stockpiling weapons domestically amid growing geopolitical tensions and disruptions caused by its anti-Covid-19 restrictions, the South China Morning Post quoted a Chinese expert as saying on Tuesday.
"The decline in arms exports from China could be a sign that Beijing was focusing more on domestic needs as geopolitical tensions rose," Ni Lexiong, a professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, told the newspaper. According to him, the geopolitical situation around mainland China is deteriorating, including the Taiwan issue, the situation on the border with India as well as relations with Japan. "China has to be ready for confrontations at all times," the expert argues.
On Monday, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published a report on international arms sales for 2018-2022. According to the report, global arms exports have been dominated by the United States and Russia, while China saw a 23% decline in arms exports, ranking fourth behind Germany.
Meanwhile, arms imports by China increased by 4.1% between 2018-2022, with 83% of those imports coming from Russia. France and Ukraine became the second and third largest arms importers, respectively.
China plans a 7.2% hike in its defense budget to 1.553 trillion yuan (around $224.85 billion) for 2023, according to an announcement made at the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress on March 5. SIPRI and many other international organizations suspect that China is underreporting its military budget by as much as 25% to 50%.