China’s weapons transfer in the Western hemisphere

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What characterises China’s weapons diplomacy and how does it unfold in the current security scenario in the Western Hemisphere? This article argues that Chinese arms deliveries have arrived in the region together with the expansion of commerce and trade routes as evidenced in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In Latin America and the Caribbean, states seek to buy weapons in light of contentious border hot spots and intrastate rampant violence. China is a wilful seller and, to accomplish this, it has developed a weapons transfer policy taking advantage of the post-hegemony of the United States. The article argues that Beijing’s successes could reverse due to the lack of interstate armed conflict, and the less belligerent military missions adopted by the armed forces. Yet, Chinese arms transfers in the Western Hemisphere and other parts of the developing world reveal a complex security governance regime where the military, industry, and diplomatic policy communities interact.

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The study of military spending has been an enduring concern within military sociology and political science. Methodologically, one of the biggest challenges lay in dealing with its heavy-tailed distribution influenced by the growing separation between China and the United States from the rest of the world. In the presence of outliers along the continuum of military expenditure, we should be paying more attention to portions of the distribution that don’t assume the values reported at the conditional mean. The article uses quantile regression modelling (QRM) to analyse the nuanced relationship between military expenditure and its predictors. It argues that classical linear regression produces average estimates that cannot predict values at different subsets of the data’s distribution, meanwhile QRM has relevant results in the search for noncentral values in the study of military expenditure often laying in the lower and the upper tails of the distribution.
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The study of the transfer of small arms and light weapons, major conventional weapons, and weapons or mass destruction is ripe for the use of network theories and methods. Yet so far, there has been little quantitative or qualitative network analysis of these networks. Questions pertaining to global and regional arms flows and the related matters of international insecurity and criminality should lend themselves quite well to this mode of analysis. Some of the main challenges for their application to these questions derive from the limited availability of data. Nonetheless, the extant literature contains a number of implicit or explicit hypotheses that could be explored or tested using network analysis. This chapter gives an overview of the main factors shaping these networks through supply and demand. It then discusses these networks' structural characteristics, focusing on the tradeoffs between security and efficiency embodied in them; the pressures on networks to adopt more or less centralized forms; and how different layers in networks relate to each other and adapt to different constraints such as geography. Finally, it reviews some existing datasets and network analyses (surprisingly few at present) and concludes with a discussion of the potential for network analysis to inform the study of arms transfer networks. Given the general import of these networks for both security studies and policy relevance, we expect to see a renaissance in the study of arms supply and proliferation networks.
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There are both military and political dimensions to arms transfers, and their effects on state behavior may not be the same. In this article I examine the degree to which arms transfers and arms transfer dependence interact to affect foreign policy conflict. I hypothesize that, as a transfer of military capability, weapons shipments increase the tendency of the recipient to strike a conflictual posture in its foreign policy, while arms transfer dependence restrains that tendency. An arms recipient faces the possibility that weapons shipments will be curtailed during periods of regional crisis and hostility, and when a state is dependent on one or a few major suppliers for the bulk of its imported weaponry, the costs associated with supply restrictions increases. This should encourage restraint on the part of states otherwise emboldened by arms acquisitions. My analysis treats conflictual behavior as a multiplicative function of arms transfers and arms transfer dependence. Parameter estimates are derived from time series data for nine states engaged in enduring rivalries during the Cold War. For some of these states, there is evidence that arms shipments encouraged more conflictual foreign policies; but there is also evidence that this propensity was tempered by the degree of arms transfer dependence. The model is non-linear, so the precise effects of dependence vary depending on context - i.e. the state's current level of arms importation and dependence - but realistic predictions involve changes in foreign policy conflict equal to 5-25% of their mean levels during the period.
What are the politics of, and prospects for, contemporary weapons control? Human rights and humanitarian activists and scholars celebrate the gains made in the UN Arms Trade Treaty as a step towards greater human security. Critics counter that the treaty represents an accommodation with global militarism. Taking the tensions between arms transfer control and militarism as my starting point, I argue that the negotiating process and eventual treaty text demonstrate competing modes of militarism. Expressed in terms of sovereignty, political economy, or human security, all three modes are underpinned by ongoing imperial relations: racial, gendered, and classed relations of asymmetry and hierarchy that persist despite formal sovereign equality. This means human security is a form of militarism rather than the antithesis of it. Drawing on primary sources from negotiations and participant observation with actors involved in the campaign for the ATT, the argument challenges the idea that human security has scored a victory over militarism. It also complicates our understanding of the nature of the accommodation with it, demonstrating the transformation as well as entrenchment of contemporary militarism. The argument reframes the challenges for controlling weapons circulation, placing the necessity for feminist, postcolonial anti-militarist critique front and centre.
This article explores current developments in Chile, where since the return to democracy in 1990, the elected authorities have reconfigured the nation’s military resources in favour of four action pillars: peacekeeping and international conflict management, landmine removal and gun disarmament, emergency and catastrophe response, and a concern for human, economic and social rights. Successive defence policies offer a valuable case study for exploring the trade-offs between security, traditional and non-traditional threat management and institutional capabilities. The article argues that human security policymaking is not free from undesired outcomes; specifically, regarding how to reconvene the role of the armed forces when conventional war seems a thing of the past. The paper focuses on the interagency policy implications and the challenges ahead for civilians and the military.
Possession of a brand is a sine qua non for economic success, not least because it connotes trust in delivering the value promised. Although Western arms exporters offer branded systems whose sales are influenced by price, there is a plethora of other economic variables, such as offset requirements and life-cycle support. Entrants to the international arms market will struggle without such arms “packages.” China’s entry, however, goes beyond the traditional economic paradigm. A four-stage historical model offers the backdrop for identifying the drivers that have forged its market entry into 55 countries worldwide. The strategy initially focused on sales of rudimentary military equipment for political purposes, but recently it has begun to commercialize exports, repositioning them from a low- to a high-tech sales trajectory. A Sino “brand” is thus emerging, reflecting both competitiveness and diplomatic considerations, especially non-interference in client state domestic affairs.
China has been investing considerable financial as well as intellectual resources for strengthening, improving, and maintaining its defense establishment. The Chinese military establishment continues to constantly keep itself abreast of advances in both technology and tactics. However, China?s race for arms and the urgency with which it wants to acquire competence in weapons technology are matters of serious concern for its big and small neighbors, not only those with many of whom it has territorial and maritime disputes but also countries of the Asia-Pacific region like Australia and the USA. It remains to be seen how far China, despite its race for arms and competence, is able to convince its neighbors and the world that its rise would indeed continue to be peaceful. In this backdrop, this article tracks the evolution of Chinese military policy in the recent years in terms of strategies, structures, finances, and development, and identifies the weaknesses of the military establishment. It attempts to understand China?s race for arms in the light of the significance of realist thought in understanding world politics.
The current Chinese foreign and national security system suffers from problems of inefficiency, a lack of coordination and information sharing, and accountability of decision makers. China’s newly established Central National Security Commission (CNSC) is designed to build a strong platform to coordinate national security work and to strengthen unified leadership of national security at the central level. This article examines the CNSC’s foreign policy and institutional rationales. It argues that the establishment of the CNSC must be viewed in light of China’s growing power and Xi’s aspiration to play ‘big power diplomacy’ in world affairs as well as his ambition for overall institutional reforms of foreign and national security policymaking in China.
Offset has been a feature of the international arms market for decades, and seems likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Monica Herrera and Ron Matthews examine the phenomenon in Latin America, where growth in national income has driven accelerated defence industrialisation and leveraged a plethora of local country offset programmes.
Chinese arms sales to Africa have increased in recent years. In a region beset by conflict and unstable regimes, and where arms sales are a significant and positive predictor of an increased probability of political violence, this is inherently problematic. The sale of weaponry to a regime in Khartoum caught up in an alleged “genocide” in Darfur, the awkward appearance in 2008 of a Chinese ship loaded with weapons bound for Mugabe's Zimbabwe off the coast of eastern Africa, and the recent exposure in 2011 that Chinese arms companies offered to sell around $200 million worth of arms to Muammar Gaddafi's regime are emblematic of an issue in Africa's political violence that needs analysis. This article seeks to discuss the rationale behind China's arms sales to Africa and the effect that they have had on political violence in recipient countries. It also provides an analysis of the supply-and-demand circumstances of Chinese arms transfers to Africa, Beijing's attempts to control such transfers, and evidence that Chinese policies on proliferation are (slowly) evolving.
Christopher S. Parker is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. For their comments, patience, and encouragement I thank Dean Calloway, Michael Creswell, Charles Glaser, Henk Goemans, Andrew Grant-Thomas, Paul Kappur, Christopher Layne, Kier Leiber, Sean Lopez, John Mearsheimer, George Moreno, Sharon Morris, Bradley Thayer, Ivan Toft, and Monica Toft. 1. For states in the core, economic interdependence, political democracy, and nuclear weapons combine to lessen the security dilemma and promote peace. States in the periphery, on the other hand, do not have a similar mix of incentives and deterrents that militate against the likelihood of conflict. For an exceptional exposition on the post-Cold War security environment between developed and developing states, see James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, "A Tale of Two Worlds: Core and Periphery in the Post-Cold War Era," International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring 1992), pp. 467-491. For the purposes of this article, I borrow the following taxonomy from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI): the industrial world, the developing world, and least developed countries. The roster of states in the developing world includes such key regional players as Israel, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East; and China, the Koreas, and Taiwan in Asia. SIPRI Yearbook 1997: World's Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 294. 2. On the prevalence of regional security systems, see Goldgeier and McFaul, "A Tale of Two Worlds"; and Aaron L. Friedberg, "Ripe for Rivalry: Prospects for Peace in a Multipolar Asia," International Security, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Winter 1993/94), pp. 5-33. 3. For an overview of the causes of war and the use of modern weapons in the developing world, see Eliot A. Cohen, "Distant Battles: Modern War in the Third World," International Security, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Spring 1986), pp. 143-171. Geoffrey Kemp discusses similar issues in greater detail in "Arms Transfers: The 'Back-End' Problem in Developing Countries," in Stephanie Neuman and Robert Harkavy, eds., Arms Transfers in the Modern World (New York: Praeger, 1979), pp. 264-275. For a more nuanced treatment of the relationship between weapons deployment, military institutions, and personnel, see Mary Kaldor and Asbjorn Eide, The World Military Order: The Impact of Technology on the Third World (London: Macmillan, 1979), pp. 9-10; and Steven J. Rosen, "New Land-Based Technologies," in Neuman and Harkavy, Arms Transfers in the Modern World, pp. 111-124. On weapons and regional instability, see W. Seth Carus, "Weapons Technology and Regional Stability," in Shelley A. Stahl and Geoffrey Kemp, eds., Arms Control and Weapons Proliferation in the Middle East and South Asia (New York: St. Martin's, 1992), pp. 10-12. 4. By transitional period I refer to the current confusion over the distribution of power that did not exist during the Cold War. Robert Jervis highlights this problem when he states that systemic polarity is "unipolar because the United States is so much stronger than the nearest competitor, bipolar because of the distribution of military resources, and tripolar because of an emerging united Europe." Jervis, "The Future of World Politics: Will It Resemble the Past?" International Security, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Winter 1991/92), pp. 41-42. 5. Since 1991 China has acquired approximately 200 Russian-made Su-27 fighter bombers, 50 MiG-31 high-altitude interceptors, two Sovremennyi-class guided missile destroyers, and an undisclosed number of Russian Kilo-class submarines. Not to be outdone, Iraq in 1985-92 received $13.6 billion in arms transfers from the Soviet Union, including 1,000 T-72 main battle tanks and 45 MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter-interceptors. For more on Chinese military acquisitions and arms racing in Asia, see Charles P. Wallace, "Arms Race, Round 2," Los Angeles Times, March 23, 1993, p. D1; Desmond Ball, "Arms and Affluence: Military Acquisitions in the Asia-Pacific Region," International Security, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Winter 1993/94), pp. 78-112; Denny Roy, "Hegemon on the Horizon: China's Threat to East Asian Security," International Security, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Summer 1994), pp. 149-168; and Avery Goldstein, "Great Expectations: Interpreting...
At first glance, the international arms trade seems to be one of those problems that will always be with us, like death and taxes. But just as life can be prolonged and tax rates can be reduced, the traffic in weapons can be reined in, given the political will to do so, as I first suggested in two contributions to World Policy Journal—the first, “Curbing the Arms Trade: From Rhetoric to Restraint” in the spring of 1992, and “Why Sell Arms?” a year later.
In the past two decades there has been an extensive reconceptualization of security and its associated practices, but there has been scant attention to questions of arms and their control. This article, and those which follow, seek to start a conversation about the control of the means of violence. We begin by drawing on the metaphor of arms control as science fiction in order to highlight notable features of the classical arms control literature. The article then discusses the ways contemporary arms control practice has evolved from a Cold War focus on parity and mutual vulnerability to a global control architecture characterized by the pursuit of absolute security via an ever-expanding range of non-proliferation initiatives aimed at rogues, rebels and terrorists. Consequently, in its post-Cold War, post-9/11 mode, contemporary arms control practice has been transformed into a form of global counter-insurgency. We suggest that the term controlling the means of violence (CMV) better captures the wide range of control initiatives that can be deployed to limit the instruments of armed violence. Finally, we summarize the arguments set out in the rest of the special issue and outline the future directions for research and activism suggested both by the papers collected in this volume and the broader discussions in the conferences that gave rise to them.
It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair
  • Williams D Hartung
China’s Arms Sales Rise As It Vies With US For Influence On The World Stage
  • Kristin Huang
’crime Concentration and Hot Spot Dynamics in Latin America
  • Laura Jaitman
  • Nicolas Ajzenman
A Latin American Battle: China Vs. Taiwan
  • Binay Prasada
The Changing Nature of Diplomacy
  • Andrew F Cooper
Taiwan Donates Military Equipment to Dominican Republic
  • De Cherisey
  • Erwan
Return Of Israel’s Arms Sales Diplomacy
  • Singh Ningthoujam
Is South America on the Brink of an Arms Race?
  • Carla Solmirano
  • Sam Perlo-Freeman
Defence Technologies and Industrial Base
  • Kenneth Boutin
Arms Donation Used by Taipei to Help Allies Stay Loyal
  • Frank Chen
How Trump Plan to Arm the World with US Weapons
  • Zachary Cohen
  • Laura Koran
Insight: China Builds Its Own Military-Industrial Complex,’ 16
  • Reuters
Exclusive: Trump To Call On Pentagon, Diplomats To Play Bigger Arms Sales Role-Sources
  • Mike Stone
  • Matt Spetalnick