Russia seriously concerned over Chinese arms market: reports

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Moscow, Jan 30 (UNI) Russia is seriously concerned over the prospect of increasingly losing the Chinese arms market.

Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported quoting independent sources that Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov would focus on this issue during his upcoming visit to Beijing.

A few years ago, Russia annually sold 1.8 -2 billion dollars worth of weapons to China which accounted for 40 per cent of Moscow's foreign-currency earnings, the paper said, adding ''Russia and China currently have no major defence contracts.'' ''The most serious problem is that Beijing no longer needs the military equipment offered by Russia,'' it said.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army's General Armament Department wants to buy rocket-launched flame-throwers, long-range bombers, nuclear-powered submarines and other weapons systems from Rosoboronexport, Russia's main state-controlled arms exporter, it pointed out.

''But Beijing wants to receive Russian weapons-production licences,'' Nezavisimaya said.

Mikhail Dmitriyev, head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, said Russia was unable to fulfill some Chinese requests for various reasons. One of them is that Russian military leaders are divided on product range, the paper reported.

''Beijing has proposed a break in the talks and would like Moscow to assess the content of future arms contracts, because Chinese generals are disappointed with the Russian approach,'' it said.

However, Russia could lose billions of dollars if the European Union abolishes the current moratorium on military cooperation with China.

UNI XC ARB MIR KP1622

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