From 2005 to 2009, China reigned as the world's top weapons importer, but since then, it's fallen to third place—while sliding into the third slot on another list: It's displaced Germany as the third-largest weapons exporter. China retains only 5% of the global export market—the US and Russia hold 31% and 27%, respectively—but a new report by the Swedish International Peace Research Institute shows China's exports of major arms jumped 143% between the period of 2005-2009 and that of 2010-2014. "One of the concerns about China is not just that they are modernizing—we don't anticipate a conflict with China, certainly—but [that] they export," the chief weapons' buyer for the Pentagon warned Congress last year, per the Wall Street Journal.
China has been able to make its break by marketing weapons at international fairs—Chinese firms attended the International Defense Exhibition in the UAE last month, the Journal points out—and looking beyond its usual customer base: Turkey is looking to buy its first long-range missile defense system and China and its $3.4 billion proposal are in the lead, Reuters reports. China also sells weapons to "niche markets" that the West snubs, including North Korea and Iran, the AP notes; still, the Journal reports the majority of China's exports go to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma. "The equipment you get nowadays from China is much better than 10-15 years ago," a senior researcher at SIPRI tells the Journal, adding that those seeking weapons can get a better deal buying comparable arms from China rather than Russia or the US.