The definition of the idiomatic term ‘Made-in-China’ as “Cheaply manufactured; of poor or low quality,”, be it right or wrong in terms of politically correct speech in the modern era is more and more frequently proving the ‘norm‘ in as far as Chinese military exports go in recent years.
The number of nation’s relying on Beijing’s grace in providing them with substandard military hardware is growing across Asia, and is now spreading into the Middle East and North Africa.
Here are a few examples of nations left wanting on the back of purchases of Chinese military machines and materials.
China sold two obsolete 1970s era Ming class Type 035G submarines to Bangladesh for US$100 million each in 2017 (recommissioned as BNS Nobojatra and BNS Joyjatra).
These were originally used as training vessels for the PLAN and had outlived their utility.
Conditions onboard these submarines is now reportedly so bad that they are said to be lying unserviceable, and have been left high and dry for a considerable time.
Some years earlier, in April 2003, the PLA Navy Ming Class submarine 361 suffered a mechanical failure in the Yellow Sea killing all 70 crew members aboard.
More recently Bangladesh acquired two Chinese 053H3 Frigates (BNS Umar Farooq and BNS Abu Ubaidah).
The ships arrived at Mongla Port in Bangladesh earlier this year, after experiencing multiple defects en-route. These issues included a non-functioning navigation radar and faulty gun systems.
The Chinese have reportedly asked for additional payments to repair the boats.
Tatmadaw’s senior leadership is unhappy over the quality of Chinese equipment supplied to them but is helpless to act due to lack of sources.
However, they have started diversifying their imports, looking more towards India to the west.
China is also supplying high quality sophisticated weapons (including SAMs) to militant groups (said to be the the Arakan Army) fighting the Tatmadaw which is also a source of annoyance to the government in Naypyitaw.
“Tayokeset tayet-soke” (“Chinese machine; broken in a day”) is thus now a well known, and frequently used phrase in Myanmar.
Six China-made Y12e and MA60 aircraft, already rejected by Bangladesh, were purchased by Nepal for its national airlines but now are lying useless as they are neither suited for Nepal’s terrain, nor are spare parts available for the ageing aircraft.
The Chinese have refused to consider Nepal’s requests to replace them.
Pakistan has borne the brunt of China’s ‘iron clad friendship‘ as it has been made the dumping ground for all types of obsolete, discarded and substandard equipment by the Chinese.
The refurbished Chinese built F22P frigates for the Pakistan Navy have been beset with various technical malfunctions.
In September 2018, the Pakistan Navy requested China provide a comprehensive proposal to undertake the midlife upgrade and overhaul of these ships.
However, China seeing no profit ignored the request thus forcing Pakistan’s Naval High Command to turn to Turkey.
Pakistan’s Army has also procured nine LY-80 LOMADS systems from China.
Islamabad signed two separate contracts for supply of the air-defence system along with IBIS-150 radar.
Delivery of all nine systems was completed in 2019. Three of the nine systems are non-functional due to faults in guidance vehicles, search vehicles and/or firing vehicles.
The Pakistan Army has conveyed to M/s Aersospace Long-March International Co Ltd (ALIT) that these issues need to be addressed as priority.
When Kenya bought Norinco VN-4 armoured personnel carriers, it is said China’s sales representative declined to sit inside the vehicles during a test firing.
Kenya went ahead with the purchase anyway in 2016, and dozens of Kenyan personnel have to date been reportedly killed in these vehicles.
The VN-4, nicknamed the “Rhinoceros”, is manufactured by state-owned Chongqing Tiema Industries.
An accident that took place near Algeria’s Tindouf Airbase in 2013, during the test period of the export version of the CH-4B UCAV destroyed the unmanned aerial vehicle.
A second accident took place near the Ain Oussera Airbase on March 9, 2014.
The same issue in loss of control over the craft during landing below 200m was indicated as the cause of the accident.
A third accident has been reported by the Algerian Air Force near the Bir Rogaa airbase.
Jordan purchased six CH-4B UCAVs in 2016.
Within three years, the kingdom had put them all up for disposal with their sale advertised in June of 2019.