China has leapfrogged Russia to become the world’s second-largest arms producer, according to revised research for the year 2017 published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.
SIPRI had previously excluded Chinese arms companies from its annual ranking over a lack of transparency, placing Russia second behind the United States in weapons production in 2017.
SIPRI’s new research based on what it says is credible financial information estimates the scale of China’s 2017 weapons production at $54.1 billion.
The $54.1 billion worth of weapons sold by four listed Chinese arms makers surpasses the $37.7 billion worth of weapons sold by 10 Russian companies that year, it said.
Three of the largest Chinese companies would have been ranked in the top 10 in 2017, downgrading major Russian arms producer Almaz-Antey to the 13th spot.
Sales by the world’s 20 largest arms companies, including Almaz-Antey and the four newly included Chinese companies, totaled $284.1 billion that year, according to the revised figures.
SIPRI said China’s opaque arms industry is likely larger than estimated, adding that its report lays the groundwork for further research.
“This research represents the most comprehensive picture of Chinese companies’ weapons production to date,” the think tank said in a press release.