Chinese weapons appeal to Africa

Global Times
Huang Panyue

Chinese military industry companies are showcasing a wide range of weapons and equipment at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2018 (AAD2018) expo being held in the city of Tshwane, South Africa from Wednesday to Sunday.

Chinese military experts say China is capable of delivering an entire national defense system to African buyers, and China's defense cooperation with African countries will contribute to regional peace and stability in the continent.

Led by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, six Chinese arms companies, including China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) and China Shipbuilding Trading Co Ltd (CSTC), are taking part in AAD2018, according to a statement the administration sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

The Chinese companies are showcasing a huge collection of products, including missiles, vessels, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, radar and ground force equipment that can fulfill the needs of ground forces, navies and air forces, the statement said.

"The Chinese lineup this year at AAD2018 is unprecedented," Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"It indicates the rapid development the Chinese arms industry has made in recent years… and shows weapons and equipment made in China are being recognized by the global market," Wei said.

An air defense missile system, a multi-use frigate and a rotor wing unmanned aerial vehicle are among the favorites, as a huge crowd stopped in their tracks in front of the Chinese display of weapons and expressed interest, according to the statement.

"If a certain African country wants to comprehensively upgrade its military, Chinese products at the expo are enough to meet all their requirements," Wei said.

Many African representatives have already said they intend to make purchases, the statement said. AAD is Africa's biggest armament exhibit. It has been held every two years since 2000, according to the statement.

China's advantage

More than 300 companies from 37 countries and regions including the US and Russia are taking part in the expo, the statement said.

Xu Guangyu, a senior consultant at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Thursday that the US, Russia and European countries are the traditional arms suppliers of African countries.

Chinese arms are attractive to African buyers as they are less costly, Xu said, noting that Chinese military industrial products have a unique advantage in price-performance ratio in the global defense market.

Wei said the militaries of many African countries are using outdated weapons and equipment and urgently need to upgrade their arsenals.

China's weapons for export have advanced features and are of high quality, Wei remarked.

Even after a purchase, "China can ensure the weapons' maintenance, repairing and personnel training. China will closely cooperate with African countries by sending experts there," Xu said, adding that Western countries usually charge high prices for similar after-sales services.

Serve to defend

"The cooperation between China and Africa is not limited to infrastructure construction, investment and trade, as national security is also an important aspect," Xu told the Gloabal Times on Thursday.

The arms trade is normal for a country to meet its needs for national security, and China follows all international norms and standards, Xu noted.

Wei said that none of the Chinese weapons and equipment being showcased is designed for aggression, but serve to defend.

"China is very careful about what weapons it sells. What China sells is actually beneficial to regional peace and stability," Wei noted.


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