What is the secret to success as an arms exporter? Repeat business.
Countries buy arms from certain suppliers for specific reasons: performance, reliability, cost, alliance politics, and so on. An important sign of success as an arms producer is building up a large and reliable overseas customer base—countries that return, year upon year, to buy additional weapons.
Here is where China has always suffered as an arms exporter. True, it consistently accounts for around 5 percent of the global arms-transfer business, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This puts it in roughly the same position as Britain, France, Italy, and Germany—but far behind Russia and the United States (those two states account for 16 percent and 40 percent of total arms exports, respectively)….

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