China's arms transfers to Africa and political violence

Ian Taylor*, Zhengyu Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Chinese arms sales to Africa have increased in recent years. In a region beset by conflict and unstable regimes, and where arms sales are a significant and positive predictor of an increased probability of political violence, this is inherently problematic. The sale of weaponry to a regime in Khartoum caught up in an alleged "genocide" in Darfur, the awkward appearance in 2008 of a Chinese ship loaded with weapons bound for Mugabe's Zimbabwe off the coast of eastern Africa, and the recent exposure in 2011 that Chinese arms companies offered to sell around $200 million worth of arms to Muammar Gaddafi's regime are emblematic of an issue in Africa's political violence that needs analysis. This article seeks to discuss the rationale behind China's arms sales to Africa and the effect that they have had on political violence in recipient countries. It also provides an analysis of the supply-and-demand circumstances of Chinese arms transfers to Africa, Beijing's attempts to control such transfers, and evidence that Chinese policies on proliferation are (slowly) evolving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-475
Number of pages19
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


  • Africa
  • Arms sales
  • China
  • Political violence
  • Proliferation


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