Why the world isn’t buying China’s fancy new weapons. In November 2016, China held its major biennial air show in Zhuhai. The event brought in 700 exhibitors as potential customers from Africa and Asia flocked to see Beijing’s military wares.
The main focus of interest was, of course, China’s new J-20 stealth fighter — the country’s next-generation warplane — as the air show was the site of the plane’s first public demonstration.
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But the Chinese arms industry is also having trouble, “Despite this attention, China still faces a number of hurdles in the defense trade industry
“The global perception of the Chinese defense industry is less than adequate. Some of the perceptions are due to malfunctioning systems or defective weapon designs. Additionally, China lacks extra services, such as training and the maintenance of equipment and arms. Some countries also lack political trust in China.”
To be sure, China has made serious inroads around the world by selling weapons. Two-thirds of African countries now use Chinese arms. Over the last few years, Chinese weapons exports reached record highs. But lately, arms deals have slowed — and Russia and America still dominate the global market.
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In September, Chinese exhibitors apparently struggled to find buyers at an air show in South Africa even as officials in Beijing aggressively tried to secure deals for the JF-17 fighter — a Chinese-Pakistani equivalent to the U.S.-made F-16. Several African countries are more heavily scrutinizing their budgets with consequences for arms sales.
Nigeria is currently the only African country with JF-17s on order.
When Cameroon purchased four brand new Chinese attack helicopters, one of them crashed shortly after delivery, causing an apparent freeze in new acquisitions. There have been concerns among some buyers about the quality of Chinese weapons.
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