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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Locating China’s Place in the Global Defense Economy


The position of an arms producing country or region in the global arms industry is dictated by the relative level of its indigenous capabilities for independent defense-related research and development (R&D) and manufacturing. Tier 1 countries such as the United States are considered to have a techonological edge, based on their ability to innovate, over Tier 2 modifiers and adapters such as China and India. Progress in the Chinese aerospace industry demonstrates its rapid trajectory from copier/reproducer of technologies to adaptor/modifier, and, in some cases, developer and designer. Do these trends mean that China is on the verge of becoming a Tier 1 arms producer?

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