Nations and their toys. Image by Eric Constantineau.
India is now the world’s top importer of arms. Not the top spender mind you, that’s still the US by far, but India is the top importer. Also, don’t get China’s drop in the importer rankings twisted. They’re just making their own weapons at home.
All The Other Kids
Here’s the breakdown of imports, from the PDF report.
|Recipient||Share Of All Imports||Top Supplier||2nd Supplier||3rd Supplier|
|India||10%||Russia (80%)||United Kingdom (6%)||Israel (4%)|
|South Korea||6%||United States (74%)||Germany (17%)||France (7%)|
|Pakistan||5%||China (42%)||United States (36%)||Sweden (5%)|
|China||5%||Russia (78%)||France (12%)||Switzerland (5%)|
|Singapore||4%||United States (43%)||France (39%)||Germany (8%)|
It’s important to clarify again that these are imports. China is still spending about $100 billion USD per year on defence compared to around $38.4 billion by India.
Better Run, Baby Run
Looking through the stuff (and the source, SIPRI has full data available) some stuff struck me. For one thing, the four of the five top arms suppliers (United States, Russia, France and the UK) are also the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as Al Jazeera points out. Like drugs, heavy users become suppliers.
Another thing is that Asia is militarizing at a pace, which is the headline most news outlets have cottoned onto. Russia is feeding the demand more than anybody, and it does look like there’s a bit of tension between India and China. It’s not like China and India are going to fight anytime soon, but China is supplying Pakistan, which can’t make India very happy. All they’ve got to tweak China’s nose is the Dalai Lama, but it’s not like they’re developing a Bodhisattva Bomb. Meanwhile China is using India’s troubles to make money and beef up its own ability to self-suffice.
According to the SIPRI study, China, which was the largest recipient of arms exports in 2002-2006, fell to fourth place in 2007-2011. The decline in the volume of Chinese imports coincides with the improvements in China’s arms industry and rising arms exports. Between 2002-2006 and 2007-2011, the volume of Chinese arms exports increased by 95 per cent.
China now ranks as the sixth-largest supplier of arms in the world, narrowly trailing the United Kingdom.
While the volume of China’s arms exports is increasing, this is largely a result of Pakistan importing more arms from China, says Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. (The Jazeera)
So, while India is now the world’s largest importer of arms, that’s not necessarily a good thing, not even in a bad way.