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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Military 'Relatively Weak,' Report Says

STOCKHOLM -- China's military capacity is overrated in the West, weapons quality is low and most modern arms sellers are staying away, a new study says.


"Only recently have foreign suppliers, in particular Russia and Israel, begun to provide China with relatively sophisticated weapons and technology," says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI.


The report says China has developed "relatively advanced systems" in ballistic missile, rocket and nuclear weapon technology. But as a whole its quest for a modern defense has stumbled.


"From this relatively weak technological base, it will be difficult to make strides forward in military modernization without further foreign sources," it says.


The bulk of China's weapon technology remains based on systems imported from the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s.


The report, "China's Arms Acquisitions from Abroad," is written by American Bill Gates and Taeho Kim of South Korea. It was completed in December and is considered the latest, most comprehensive report on the Chinese military.


David Shambaugh, at the School of Oriental and African Studies of London, agreed that Western governments may have overrated the Chinese military machine, but he stressed that Beijing has made notable improvements in submarine, anti-aircraft and other areas and was developing a new fighter, the J-10.


Western arms producers, led by the United States, turned their backs on China after the crackdown at Tiananmen Square in 1989.


In recent years, Western arms suppliers, faced with dwindling orders at home, have been trying to cash in on China's economic growth.


But SIPRI predicted imports would remain slow because of financial constraints and deep-rooted traditions limiting foreign influence in arms affairs.