China has become the fifth largest exporter of military weapons after the United States, Russia, France and Germany. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), seven Chinese state-owned defense companies each earned more than $5 billion in 2016, placing them among the top 20 defense companies in the world . However, the quality of the weapons systems China exports is questionable, and those sold to Bangladesh are problematic.
The online news platform EU Reporter reported earlier today that the Bangladesh Air Force initially procured nine Chinese-made K-8W trainers in 2014-15, one of which was crashed in July 2018. Bangladesh has since ordered seven more of the same type of aircraft, and shortly after delivery in October 2020, two more developed problems. Repeated requests by Bangladeshi authorities to the Chinese National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) have met with only vague responses. More worryingly, there were also problems firing the ammunition loaded on these aircraft.
In addition, Bangladesh also purchased FM-90 (China’s HQ-7A) air defense system for RMB 3 million based on the Chinese Communist Party‘s offer. But but the system has developed serious defects and has been lying unused for almost three years.
Bangladesh has sent many armed personnel to China to be trained in various PLA institutions. One group of Bangladeshi air force officers trained at Changchun Aviation University were mistreated by senior Chinese officers. This issue was quickly swept under the rug, but the Chinese attitude toward Bangladesh is also visible in the first class.
The Bangladesh Navy also spent $200 million on Chinese Ming-class submarines and has a Chinese base in the country’s port of Pekua. The Bangladeshi government and navy now cover maintenance costs, import duties and other issues, paying for China’s military diplomacy.
Clarke Cooper, who served as assistant secretary of state in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Military Affairs, commented, “The Chinese Communist Party is using arms transfers as a means of knocking on the doors of certain countries through price reductions, predatory financing mechanisms, and sometimes outright bribery. Once these portals are opened, the CCP quickly uses the door to exert influence and gather intelligence.”