Amnesty International released a report on China's arms exports on June 12, charging that the nation sells large quantities of weapons to Myanmar, Nepal, Sudan and Africa's Great Lakes region, which has allegedly led to tension and humanitarian disasters in these areas.
These charges are unfounded and reckless, as China strictly follows relevant international agreements and codes involving the transfer of military hardware and technology and is highly self-disciplined in this regard, says Teng Jianqun, a researcher from the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
The arms trade is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world. It is also an important way in which many countries gain economic benefits and assure the survival and development of their defence industries. It is only natural that any country able to produce and export arms will try to obtain the largest possible share of the arms market, according to Teng.
China actually has a very small share of the global arms market compared with other big countries. According to statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia sold US$26.925 billion worth of conventional weapons between 2000 and 2004, the United States sold US$25.93 billion and China sold just US$1.436 billion.
In 1991, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on the registration of conventional arms. This registration shows that the amount of conventional weapons sold by China pales in comparison with those from the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
China follows three principles in this regard. First, arms sales should help raise the recipient's ability to defend itself. Second, such sales should not harm regional or global peace, security and stability. Third, arms sales should not be used as a tool to interfere in the internal affairs of any sovereign state, says Teng.
China has worked out a package of laws, regulations and rules to strictly control the production, storage, transportation, trade and use of small arms, according to Teng.
Exports of various kinds of conventional weapons, including small arms, are subject to the Regulation on the Management of Export of Military Products. Those who violate the regulation are brought to justice.
Amnesty International's report says that some Chinese arms manufacturers ignore the government's laws and regulations, selling large quantities of arms overseas for a profit.
This is pure conjecture. In China, every stage in the production and sale of small arms is recorded in great detail. These records are filed for long-time storage. Many companies have established specialized computerized management systems in this regard, according to Teng.
In addition, China has introduced a system monitoring the end users of Chinese-made weapons to prevent the arms from finding their way via a third party to hot spots and sensitive regions around the world. The placards of Chinese-made small arms offer information about the types, manufacturers' code names, batch numbers and production dates.
Moreover, the country is considering improving the placard system to make Chinese-made small arms easier to recognize, according to Teng.
China's self-discipline and strict management have won appreciation from the international community. The United Nations Workshop on Small Arms and Light Weapons was held in Beijing in April 2005. At China's initiative, all participating parties agreed that the countries should strengthen their co-operation in controlling small arms' proliferation and smuggling.
Overall, the principles and practices China follows in the transfer of military hardware facilitate the maintenance of the world peace and regional stability and promote the cause of arms control and disarmament, Teng concludes.
(China Daily June 22, 2006)