Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chinese vs U.S. arms sales

From Alex:  "Considering the extreme focus in western media on China's increasing share of global arms sales and its growing influence in Africa, I thought the findings in this report from the university of Oslo () would be interesting for you. The report compares U.S. and Chinese arms sales to Africa during the period 1989-2006 and reaches the following conclusion: "Using data on arms transfers from the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI), we test the proposition empirically by assessing the nature and strength of Chinese politico-military support to African regimes, where we examine the arms transfers from China relative to the US. We find that China relative to the US transfers greater amounts of arms to democracies rather than autocracies, whereas the US seems to clearly prefer more autocratic regimes. The same result holds when we assess this relationship using human rights data. Our results show clearly that China's involvement in Africa does not seem to be a threat to democracy, particularly when considering how the current hegemon behaves with regard to supporting the security of autocrats."
And if this wasn't enough, China's biggest market for weapons in Africa is not Sudan or Mugabe's Zimbabwe, but Egypt. This does mean that China is supporting tyrants on the African continent, but this is made possible because of the U.S.:
"Ironically, Washington's massive arms transfers and various forms of aid to Egypt have had the effect of making China appear more supportive of authoritarian and repressive regimes than it would otherwise. This is because Washington's massive aid to Egypt frees up additional budget resources that Cairo then uses to buy Chinese arms. Beijing's sales to Egypt during the 1989 to 2008 period totaled $425 million, or 31% of all Chinese arms transfers to the entire African continent. In other words, Chinese sales to Egypt are far larger than their sales to Sudan and Zimbabwe combined (which totaled a mere $312 million).27 In short, Egypt, thanks in no small part to the US, is China's best weapons customer in Africa, not to mention its leading authoritarian and repressive customer. Nonetheless, China's arms exports to the Egyptian authoritarians are tiny next to America's massive transfers."
Now, imagine if Egypt wasn't an American client state and did not receive two billion dollars in military aid each year, then we could be confident that the Washington Post, New York Times, The Economist etc would go on and on about China's "evil" support for the Egyptian regime, whereas now such a critique would be impossible since it would imply that the U.S. is involved in much larger human rights abuses."