Russia’s Renewed Arms Sale to China

Tensions in the arms sales relationship between Russia and China have been visibly on the rise in recent years. Yet, in November 2010, Moscow and Beijing announced a large new package of arms sales that appear to have turned a new leaf in this relationship. Much of the tension stemmed from the Chinese defense industry's practice of reverse engineering Russian weapons technology, indigenizing it and then reselling it in third party markets in competition with Moscow. In negotiations, China has long demanded that Russia sell it advanced technologies in its defense platforms or advanced weapons, something that Moscow has been loath to do regarding both the weapons and their components . Russia has also always been concerned that China might ultimately employ these advanced technologies and systems against it or its friends in Asia.

For example, in 2006 it refused to sell certain sensitive space technologies to China (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, December 27, 2006). Nevertheless the restoration of arms sales appears to be connected with a new turn in Sino-Russian relations in China’s favor. The fifth round of Sino-Russian strategic talks took place form January 23-25 and Russia’s arms sales organization, Rosoboroneksport, has announced that it sees China as Russia’s chief partner in Asia (Interfax, January 19).
This turn in Sino-Russian ties, probably dictated form the highest levels of both governments, appears to have overridden Russia’s mounting concerns about Chinese military developments.

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