The Chinese military is not known for its transparency, but local media were surprised last week when a top official confirmed that the PLA’s navy was building a second aircraft carrier. There had been earlier reports that the 302-metre Liaoning was set to be supplemented by a new carrier, but these had promptly been deleted from websites. According to Business Insider Liu Xiaojiang, a senior naval figure, revealed to the press that China was constructing its first indigenous aircraft carrier (the Liaoning had been purchased from Ukraine) and the military envisaged having at least three. The news came in the same week that it emerged that China had edged past Germany, France and the UK to become the world’s third largest arms exporter. The country’s arms exports surged 143% between 2010 and 2014, with the bulk of the weapons sold to Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. However, at 5% of global arms exports, China still lags behind the US and Russia which respectively account for 31% and 27% of such sales, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
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