In the past, China has made strides in exporting military weapons. However, weapons branded “made in China” have revealed many shortcomings.

“Quality” is the difference between Chinese weapons and those from other established weapons suppliers.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) stated, “quality deficiencies persist with some exported equipment, which is limiting China’s ability to broadly expand export markets.”

One of the best examples is Jordan’s purchase of six unmanned combat aerial vehicles CH-4B (UCAV) manufactured by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) in 2016. Shortly after, the Royal Jordanian Army and Air Force (RJAF) put them up for sale in June 2019.

In addition to Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iraq also use CH-4 UCAV. However, according to Business Standard, from the original ten aircraft, by 2019, the Iraqi Air Force only had one left. In addition, the US inspector general revealed in an August 2019 report that maintenance problems were to blame for the fleet’s decline.

According to Shephard Media, Royal Jordanian Air Force sources told the UK-based defense publisher in November 2018 that they were unsatisfied with the aircraft’s performance and were looking for ways to retire them.

In his Washington DC speech, R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, provided another example.

In Africa, Cameroon purchased four Harbin Z-9 attack helicopters in 2015. Unfortunately, one crashed soon after it was delivered.

An October 2019 government report revealed that Kenya had invested in the Norinco VN4 armored personnel carrier. It is noteworthy that the Chinese sales representative refused to sit inside during the test firing. Despite the possible risks of using Norinco VN4s, Kenya continued to purchase them, resulting in dozens of deaths of their employees.

The government report cites an editorial in Kenya’s The Standard, “It is saddening that our officers continue to patrol the border on pick-up trucks and sham Chinese-made armored personnel carriers even after such deaths. Despite the omnipresent danger of running over an improvised explosive device (IED).

In addition, Chinese weapons “remain largely untested in combat and come with hidden costs, including political ones.”

A VOA analysis shows that Chinese hardware’s after-sales support service price is often higher than that of other countries. Collin Koh, a maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, said Chinese weapons are often cheaper than comparable products from other exporters, but after-sales service support can be expensive.

Koh also adds that political friction with China also prevents some foreign buyers, especially importers, from requiring integration with non-Chinese systems.

Most Chinese hardware also lacks combat testing, making it difficult for buyers to determine if Chinese weapons will perform well.

Finally, Chinese weapons lack a high-end core engine due to the EU ban on German engines.

The Week reported, in 1989, the European Union imposed an arms embargo on China after the Tiananmen Square massacre. This embargo led to Germany banning diesel engine exports to China.

That created an awkward situation for China as it sold Thailand a submarine without an engine.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the submarine that China sold to Thailand was the S26T, an export variant of the Chinese navy’s Yuan-class submarine. Thai Navy spokesman Vice Admiral Pokkrong Monthatphalin said that according to the agreement between Thailand and China, subs need MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH engines of German manufacture.

The lack of a German engine made it impossible for China to comply with the Thai engine requirement. Vice Admiral Pokkrong Monthatphalin said that the terms of the agreement should be revised so as not to disadvantage the Thai navy.

China’s export of weapons products causes buyers to worry about the quality and bring hidden costs later. In addition, they lack high-quality engines due to encountering bans from the EU. The above shortcomings have partly dragged down China’s arms export sales and explain the lack of improvement.

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