GLOBAL transfers of large conventional weapons such as tanks and planes were 24% higher in 2007-2011 than in 2002-2006, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Deliveries to South-East Asia rose particularly steeply, jumping by 185% as tensions mounted over territorial claims in the South China Sea. Three-quarters of all exports in the past five years were made by five countries, as can be seen in the chart below. A notable recent development is China's ability to manufacture its own weapons. Consequently it now ranks as the sixth-biggest exporter, and having been the second-largest importer in 2002-06, it was only the fourth-largest in 2007-11. India remains the biggest importer of arms, buying 10% of the world's total. Perhaps surprisingly there was little change in the volume of arms sent to Arab Spring countries in the past year, though exports to Syria in 2007-2011 (supplied overwhelmingly by Russia) increased by nearly 600% on figures for 2002-06.
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