SIPRI's research shows that from 2014 to 2018, China exported some 153 UCAVs to 13 countries, marking it as the primary exporter of unmanned drones for that time period. Countries tapping China for its drones are mainly in the Middle East and include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
When comparing previous arms data collected from 2009 to 2013 and figures obtained from 2014 to 2018, China saw an overall increase of 1,430 percent in drone sales, researchers noted.
Aside from unmanned drones, the report also points out that from 2014 to 2018, China managed to expand its customer base for its major arms to 53 countries, picking up 12 new customers when compared to the 41 countries it was previously selling to from 2009 to 2013.
In a list of the top 25 largest exporters of major arms from 2014 to 2018, China came in fifth place, following the US, Russia, France and Germany. The report also noted that Pakistan remained Beijing's top arms buyer, purchasing 37 percent of its arms. Bangladesh and Algeria bought 16 percent and 11 percent of its weaponry, respectively.
China, the US, Russia, France and Germany accounted for 75 percent of the total volume of arms exports between 2014 and 2018, researchers found. The US accounted for 36 percent of that share of sales.
It was also noted by officials that China's arms exports are limited due to the fact that "many countries will not procure Chinese arms for political reasons." India, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam were listed as nations not interested in purchasing Chinese weapons.
The five largest importers from 2014 to 2018 were Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia and Algeria, which together took home 35 percent of all arms imports.
Asia and Oceania accounted for 40 percent of global imports, followed by the Middle East (35 percent), Europe (11 percent), Africa (7.8 percent) and the Americas (6.2 percent).