Chinese Arms in Africa Print

November 2007  


Numerous major Chinese weapons shipments have been received by governments in Africa, often in exchange for oil deals.  Angola, Algeria, the Congo, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Sudan and Zimbabwe have recently purchased weapons from Red China.   


Oil from Angola now makes up approximately 14% of China’s annual oil imports (valued at $6.58 billion).  In 2005 Angola exported over 17 million tons of crude oil to China.  The China Petro Chemical Corporation last year signed a $1.4 billion deal with the Angolan Sonangol Company to develop new oil fields.  China also offered Angola a loan of $3 billion.  Angola has ordered eight SU-27SK fighter jets from Red China.   


China has a 40% stake in Sudan’s largest international oil consortium.  In 2005 Sudan exported 6.6 million tons of crude oil to China (about 5.2% of China’s total oil imports for that year.)  It is apparent that Red China is Sudan’s primary military supplier.  Most of its trucks, tanks and aircraft are of Chinese manufacture.  According to the Kamwa Defence Review, the Sudan Air Force includes eight J-6 fighter jets and a number of J-7 fighters, F-7N fighters and two Y-8 transport aircraft. Chinese weapons predominate throughout the Sudan military including its T62 tanks,  type 54-122 mm Howitzers, type 59-130mm cannons, type 81-122mm rockets, type 59-57mm anti-aircraft weapons, as well at its mortars and other weaponry. 


The Zimbabwe Army is equipped with 30 type 59 tanks and 10 type 69 tanks from China.  More than half of its armoured vehicles are Chinese type 63s. The Zimbabwe Air Force is also equipped with 9 J-7 fighters from China.  Zimbabwe also recently acquired 6 K-8 Trainers from China.  Despite the international ban on ivory poaching, the Marxist ZANU government of Zimbabwe has been selling ivory to Red China in exchange for jet fighters, tanks and other military hardware.   


The Congo is China’s eighth largest source of oil supplies.  The official records for 2005 reports that Congo exported 5.5 million tons of crude oil to China in that year (amounting to 4.4% of China’s oil imports).  Although an international arms embargo on the Congo is still enforced, the Congo is a traditional client for Chinese weapons.  The Congo military includes 30 type 59 tanks, and numerous type 63-107mm rocket guns, type 60-122mm Howitzers, and type 59-130mm cannons. 


Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer.  However, in 2005 Nigeria only exported 1.3 million tons of oil to China (less than 1% of China’s oil imports).  Yet, last year, China National Offshore Oil Corporation invested $2.27 billion in Nigeria’s offshore oil fields.  This represents a 45% stake, and it is China’s largest investment in Africa so far.  For the first time Chinese combat aircraft are entering Nigeria.  Nigeria spent $251 million on the purchase of 12 F-7 N1 and 3 FT-7 NI Fighters.   


Egypt may have more Chinese made weapons than any other country in Africa.  Egypt has negotiated major deals with China for 120 K-8 trainer aircraft, and China provided a loan of $50 million to Egypt, and signed a cooperative agreement in oil and natural gas development.  There are also 53 J-7 fighters in the Egyptian Air Force.   With African government’s desire for Chinese weapons and China’s demand for oil from Africa increasing, one can expect to see much more Chinese influence and weaponry in Africa in the foreseeable future. 

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