Special Report

Largest Chinese Weapons Manufacturers

China is in the midst of the largest military buildup of any country since World War II, a development that is sounding alarm bells in Washington. A November 2022 Defense Department report identified China as “the most consequential and systemic challenge to our national security and to a free and open international system.” 

Chinese defense spending hit an all-time high of $270 billion in 2021, up 90% from an inflation-adjusted $142 billion a decade earlier, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. With the increased spending, China has expanded its arsenal of both nuclear and conventional weapons considerably, while also developing advanced weapons systems deployable in the air, land, sea, and space. 

China’s rapid militarization has occurred alongside President Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power in Beijing, mounting incidents of unprofessional or unsafe behavior of Chinese aircraft and vessels targeted at American and allied forces, and growing evidence of China’s ambitions to coercively unify Taiwan. 

With U.S.-Chinese relations at their lowest point in half a century and few indications of de-escalation, several defense contractors in China are reporting billions in revenue from weapons sales to the government. (Here is a look at the nations ramping up military spending the most.)

Using 2021 arms sales revenue data from SIPRI Arms Industry Database, 24/7 Wall St. identified the eight largest Chinese weapons manufacturers. Among the companies on this list, 2021 arms sales revenue ranged from $1.8 billion to $21.6 billion.

The companies on this list are large, state-owned conglomerates that, through their subsidiaries, produce everything from small arms to intercontinental ballistic missiles. Not surprisingly, all but one of these companies reported increasing revenue from 2020 to 2021. 

Notably, China National Nuclear Corporation, or CNNC, reported a 13% year-over-year arms sales increase, at a time when China’s nuclear stockpile increased from an estimated 350 warheads to over 400, based on estimates from the nonpartisan Arms Control Association. According to the DOD, at this pace, China will have 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035. (Here is a look at the countries with the most nuclear weapons.)

Through a series of executive orders put in place during both the Trump and Biden administrations, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on every company on this list. The orders effectively ban American investors from providing any financial backing to the Chinese defense industry. 

Click here to see the largest Chinese weapons manufacturer.

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