Explaining and Influencing Chinese Arms Transfers

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Explaining and Influencing Chinese Arms Transfers

By Karl W. Eikenberry
National Defense University, 1995
69 pp. $0.00
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This is a short but well-researched essay on Chinese arms sales by a U.S. Army colonel now working in the Department of Defense who is also a China specialist. It is an important contribution to a subject that has the potential to exacerbate U.S.-China relations.

The author's conclusions are not overly optimistic. First, commensurate with its expanding regional security interests, China will increasingly attempt to become a major arms supplier to Asian states. Second, Third World demand for Chinese arms may gradually rise as U.S. arms transfer policy is perceived as unreliable and conditional upon American domestic politics. Third, China, which will be a net importer of oil by the year 2000, might decide to guarantee favorable Middle East oil contracts with weapons exports. Fourth, great power aspirations and the dynamics of the PRC defense industries will encourage continued aggressive sales abroad.

On the brighter side, China has in the past shown reluctance to be seen as violating international arms control rules, and when the payoff for moderation is sufficiently great, Beijing has shown a willingness to appear responsive to concerted international calls to restrain arms traffic.