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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

People's Daily Online

China's arms exports doesn't violate rules

People's Daily Online

By Liu Qiang (Chinadaily.com.cn) 14:37, March 19, 2015

Some countries have created an uproar over China's arms trade following the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's report on global arms sales because they have ulterior motives. The report, published on March 16 and based on the data from 2010 to May 2014, says China has surpassed Germany and France to become the world's third-largest weapons exporter; it is behind only the United States and Russia. The report also says China has witnessed the fastest growth in weapons' exports.

In view of its international influence and data credibility, the SIPR report has offered a reason to some to create a fuss over China while turning a blind eye to some basic facts.

Anyone without prejudice can see that China's arms sales, although third-largest in the world, are trivial compared with the top two arms-exporting countries.

According to the SIPRI report, China only accounts for 5 percent of world's arms exports compared with 31 percent by the US and 27 percent by Russia. The question is: Why have some people chosen to single out China while ignoring the US and Russia that account for much larger arms exports? Is it because China has no right to export weapons or is it because it has violated international regulations on arms sales?

The SIPRI report seems to have given some people a new stick to beat China with, especially following the recent detention in Colombia of a vessel suspected to be carrying weapons from China. The fact is, the Colombia incident is an isolated case that should not become an excuse for verbal attacks against China.

As a special commodity, arms and their sales have long been subjected to international rules and regulations. There is not much restriction on normal transaction of light and defensive weapons, though. In fact, there is no ban on the trade of offensive or aggressive weapons, excluding those of mass destruction, although there are regulations for it.

Like many countries, China is both an exporter and importer of weapons, because it needs them for its national defense and economic development. As such, it should not be used a pretext by some to criticize China. China has always followed international norms on the import and export of weapons. That's why people who criticize China for its comparatively small arms exports while turning a blind eye to large-scale even illegal arms deals in other parts of the world raise doubts about their motives.

Aside from some Western media intent on catching people's attention by raising a storm in a teacup over China's arms exports, some people have also chosen to judge China with a Cold War mentality. Whatever China does always arouses negative feelings in them. The hue and cry over China's cheap but well-functioning weapons is also because Western countries fear they could erode their traditional market share. It is concerns like these that have prompted them to exaggerate the "China's threat" theory and, in the process, make some gains.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China knows and has been fulfilling its responsibilities to maintain peace and security in the world. It has also made efforts to ensure arms control and non-proliferation. Despite not signing the Arms Trade Treaty because of some special reasons, China did play a constructive role in the talks leading to its eventual signing.

China has always abided by the UN stipulation on arms registration and reporting. Also, it has conducted normal arms trade with other countries in an open and transparent manner and firmly opposes arms smuggling. It is therefore unbecoming of some countries to set up barriers for China's normal arms trade. And China should not be entrapped in the shackles set by certain countries, and it should not abandon its reasonable and legitimate weapons' trade only because of the annoying noises from abroad.

The author is a professor at and presiding director of the Strategy and Security Institute, the PLA University of International Studies.

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