A K-8 Karakorum two-seat single-engine jet trainer and light attack aircraft, which was on a night training mission, crashed on September 20, 2021 north of Omdurman, on the west bank of the Nile, in Sudan, The Defense Post reported. The accident — which killed two pilots —was due to a technical failure, said Sudanese Armed Forces Spokesperson Brigadier General Ahmed Khalifa al-Sham in a September 21 statement. Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation of China and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex produce the K-8, according to the same source.
China is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of weapons, with 5.2 percent of all international arms trade, behind (in order) the United States (37 percent), Russia (20 percent), France (8.2 percent) and Germany (5.5 percent), according to Statista, an internet-based provider of market and consumer data. But quantity does not necessarily mean quality. According to several sources, China has pushed faulty and defective equipment to its customers, including its Belt and Road Initiative partners, as Beijing presents itself as an alternative to Russia in the realm of military weapons sales.
Selling faulty military equipment worldwide
In November 2020, the India TV website published a report highlighting how China has pushed defective and faulty equipment to its friendly nations. The following are some examples, as reported by the India TV website.
- China has provided two obsolete 1970s era Ming class Type 035G submarines to Bangladesh. The condition of these submarines is so bad that they have reportedly been sitting unserviceable for a considerable time.
- Six China-made Y12e and MA60 aircraft that Bangladesh had already rejected, were purchased by Nepal for its national airlines, but now are lying useless as they are neither suited for Nepal’s terrain nor have spare parts available for them. The Chinese have refused to consider Nepal’s requests to replace them.
- The refurbished Chinese built F22P frigates for the Pakistan Navy have been beset with various technical malfunctions. In September 2018, the Pakistan Navy requested a comprehensive proposal to undertake the mid-life upgrade/overhaul of these ships from China. However, China, seeing no profit, turned a blind eye, thus forcing the Pakistan Navy to turn to Turkey.
- When Kenya bought Norinco VN-4 armored personnel carriers, China’s sales representative declined to sit inside the vehicles during a test firing. Kenya went ahead with the purchase in 2016 and dozens of Kenyan personnel have reportedly been killed in those vehicles. The VN-4, nicknamed “Rhinoceros,” is manufactured by Chinese state-owned Chongqing Tiema Industries.
India TV’s report also mentions other incidents involving faulty Chinese equipment in Algeria, Jordan, and other countries.
Pakistan is one of the countries India TV mentions as still facing quality and reliability issues with newly acquired Chinese equipment, with a main battle tank failing post-delivery tests and a freshly procured heavy artillery gun facing multiple technical issues during firing trials, according to The Economic Times (ET). Sources have told ET that China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) is also incurring delays in the supply of field artillery guns, and the production of main battle tanks have been temporarily halted as investigations are ongoing to determine the reason for the faults.
Countries interested in purchasing military equipment from China should pay close attention to what R. Clarke Cooper, who served as assistant secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. State Department (2019-2021), said about Chinese arms sales in a speech before defense attachés and ambassadors in Washington, D.C. on October 31, 2019.
“Through a combination of cut-price systems such as unmanned aerial systems, predatory financing mechanisms, and sometimes outright bribery, China is using arms transfers as a means of getting its foot in the door — a door that, once opened, China quickly exploits both to exert influence and to gather intelligence… Buyer, beware. We have seen countries around the world leap at the chance to obtain high-tech, low-cost defensive capabilities, only to see their significant investments crumble and rust in their hands,” Cooper said.