Israeli concerns about Chinese weapons in Middle East

(Middle East Monitor) – A study published by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University has reviewed the history of arms deals between China, some Arab countries and Iran. The research institute published the transactions in a book entitled Sino-Israel Relations: Opportunities and Challenges. The data attached to the study is based on information released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

China’s arms exports to the Middle East began in the mid-1970s, and by 2017 it reached $12.73bn. Most of the Chinese arms sales in this area, which amounted to $8.8bn in total value, took place in the 1980s, during which China sold arms to both sides of the Iran-Iraq war. In the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War, China’s weapon exports to the Middle East fell to $1.8bn, mostly directed to Iran. This decline continued in the first decade of the 21st century, reaching $1.4bn, with a majority of exports to Iran and Egypt.

The value of Chinese arms exports between 2010 and 2017 reached $468mn, accounting for 3.7 per cent of China’s total military exports to the world, which reached $12.5bn. Thus, Russian and US weapon exports to the Middle East during this period amounted to $6.1bn and $30.1bn, respectively.

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