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Arms sales by China's four biggest companies in the sector rose by 5% in 2019: SIPRI think tank

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Arms sales by China’s four biggest companies in the sector rose by 4.8% in 2019 compared with 2018 to $56.7 billion, a leading conflict and armaments think-tank said on Monday.

Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said it had included data on Chinese companies for the first time in its annual ranking of the world’s 25 largest arms manufacturing companies.

The four Chinese companies on the list were Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO) and China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC), which SIPRI said ranked 6th, 8th, 9th and 24th, respectively.

“Chinese arms companies are benefiting from military modernisation programmes for the People’s Liberation Army,” SIPRI Senior Researcher Nan Tian said in a statement accompanying the report.

China is considered more of a potential threat militarily than in the past by many western countries. A report on reforming NATO said last week the Atlantic alliance must think harder about how to handle China and its military rise.

SIPRI said on Monday that overall arms sales by the 25 companies in its ranking rose by 8.5% in 2019 to $361 billion. The top five companies were all from the United States -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics, with combined arms sales of $166 billion.

The think-tank has previously not included Chinese companies in its ranking due to what it has said was a lack of reliable data.

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom. Editing by Jane Merriman

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