India Moves To Compete With China in Africa

3rd India-Africa Forum Summit.

3rd India-Africa Forum Summit.

“Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks during the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD), held on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 here in Gujarat, are being seen as a counter to China’s growing influence in Africa.”

India has taken various steps to counter China since a series of border clashes took place along the Line of Actual Control in 2017 and 2020.[i] While most of these initiatives involved developing operational and tactical capabilities in the Indian Army, the Indian government has also taken a few strategic-level measures to strengthen its position in the Indo-Pacific region against China.[ii] However, a new playing field for Indian and Chinese competition is showing itself: the accompanying excerpted articles report on recent Indian efforts to sell weapon systems to governments in Africa, offering insights into Indian efforts to counter China at the strategic level.

The excerpted article from India’s independent think-tank Center for Land Warfare Studies examines Chinese exports of weapons in Africa. The author notes how China has been increasing arms exports to the Middle East and North Africa in recent years and that this has been taking place alongside the use of ports in the region. The author also points out how China is in a position to continue sales of weapons in Africa as the war in Ukraine could reduce Russia’s share of the arms market in the region. While India’s defense industry has yet to export significant numbers of weapon systems in the way that China can, a second article provides insight into Indian plans to change this status quo.

This excerpted article from India’s independent English-language news website, The Print, reports on the India-Africa Defense Dialogue, held in October in India alongside the most recent iteration of the country’s defense exposition. The article states that a number of participants from Africa attended and that India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh wanted to explore new areas of security cooperation between India and African states, “including capacity-building, training, cybersecurity, maritime security, and counter-terrorism.” Singh also stated that India and Africa are “important stakeholders in ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment, especially in the Indian Ocean region.” He further commented that India will partner with any African country on the “basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect.” Lastly, the article references an extensive list of weapons that might be of interest to African militaries, which could give India another opportunity to counter China if New Delhi is able to supply these systems as part of a different partnership than Beijing offers. 


Dr. Manjari Singh, “China’s Increasing Arms Supply to the Middle East and Beyond: Another Dimension to the New Silk Road?,” Center for Land Warfare Studies (independent think-tank in India), 28 October 2022, No. 367.

China has been expanding its arms export beyond Asia and for the last half a decade, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have become its favourite destinations. From the region’s side, China is emerging as the second-best choice for arms imports after the US. Furthermore, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has added a new dimension to the existing global arms industry with an anticipated boost to China’s overall arms diplomacy particularly in the Middle East…

China has been exporting armed drones to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan since 2020…This change in position is also reflective of the East Asian economy’s

increasing weapon’s platform outreach—from 40 countries to 53, over a span of one decade from 2010 to 2019…

It is noteworthy that between 2015 and 2022, China has leased ownership of as many as

10 ports. Apart from these ports, China has been building seven more ports which are strategically significant, and serves as economic and political outposts for its expansionist approach. The Karachi Deepwater Port in Pakistan, Sokhna port in Egypt, CICT Terminal in Sri Lanka, Chittagong and Payra Ports in Bangladesh, CSP Terminal, Khalifa Port in the UAE, Sudan Port, Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam Ports in Tanzania, and Lamu & Mombasa ports in Kenya, are some of the other ports developed by Chinese firms…

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is likely to dent Russian economy and the former’s aggression will presumably lead to its diplomatic isolation, both of which are likely to provide a favourable environment to Chinese arms market. Additionally, maritime connectivity and building of Chinese ports in the Western Indian Ocean will further facilitate China’s arms sale…

Snehesh Alex Philip, “To counter China’s influence, India seeks to boost defence cooperation with African countries,” The Print (independent English-language news website from India), 18 October 2022.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks during the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD), held on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 here in Gujarat, are being seen as a counter to China’s growing influence in Africa.

Fifty African countries participated in the India-Africa Defence Dialogue initiated during the last DefExpo held in Lucknow in 2020. Among the attendees were defence ministers of 20 African countries…

During his address Tuesday, the Defence Minister stressed the need to explore new areas of convergence for defence engagements between India and Africa, including capacity-building, training, cybersecurity, maritime security and counterterrorism. He added that India and African countries are important stakeholders in ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment, especially in the Indian Ocean region.

“We do not believe in making or becoming a client or satellite state, and so, when we partner with any country, it is on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect…” he said.

Sources in the defence establishment also said equipment of interest to Africa includes light combat helicopters, patrol vessels, small arms, shoulder-fired rockets, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, and surveillance drones, among others…


[i] For more background on the clashes, see: Christopher Clary and Vipin Narang, “India’s Pangong Pickle: New Delhi’s Options After Its Clash with China,” War on the Rocks, 2 July 2022.

[ii] The government of India increased its security cooperation with Vietnam in 2022 as one strategic-level measure to counter China. For more see: Matthew Stein, “India Strengthens Security Cooperation with Vietnam,” OE Watch, Issue #8, 2022.

Image Information:

Image: 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit
Attribution: Government Open Data License – India (GODL)

New Chinese Small Arms at Weapons Expo

Chinese Small Arms.

Chinese Small Arms.

“Compared to the previous Type-95 series of rifles, the Type-20 series are lightweight and more portable. A major technological breakthrough for the new rifles is improvements in reliability and service life.”

Several examples of China’s new series of small arms were recently shown at the Zhuhai airshow. Formally known as the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, the event is held every two years and includes displays of a wide range of new equipment. While most weapons are meant primarily for export, the expo also showcases equipment that has been adopted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The following excerpt from Chinese state media describes a new series of small arms developed by China Ordnance Equipment Group Corporation[i] known as the “Type 20 New Weapon Series.”[ii]

In 2019, China showed troops equipped with a new battle rifle, the Type 191,[iii] during the military parade that was part of celebrations of the 70th founding of the People’s Republic of China. New camouflage uniforms were also shown for the first time.[iv] Since then, Chinese media reporting has shown more units being equipped with the new rifles and wearing the new camouflage. As highlighted by Zhang Lu in the excerpt, the Type 20 weapons feature improvements in their lifespan and reliability. The rifles use M-LOK and Picatinny rail systems to allow easy modification and use of accessories, including grips, lasers, and optics. When the Type 191 was initially introduced, it appeared with an optic using a loop of fiberoptic to provide illumination of the reticle without the need for batteries. Since then, numerous other optics have appeared in use, and images from the expo showed a wide variety of thermal and low-light optics. Other weapons belonging to the Type 20 series have appeared in other Chinese media reporting, including new dedicated marksman rifles, sniper rifles, and the Type 201 5.8mm Squad Machine Gun, a replacement for the Type 95-derived squad support weapon (QBB-95[RG1] ).[v] This new machine gun gives up the bull-pup design and drum magazine of the QBB-95 for a traditional belt-fed design. Other parts of the Type 20 series include a 9mm submachine gun with an extendable stock and holographic sight and a new handgun. While the new weapons will take some time to be fielded across the force, these minor improvements are important to increasing the combat power of Chinese military units and will help make them more effective in a variety of scenarios.


“‘硬核’的中国制造!20式新枪族 ‘组团’ 亮相 (“Hard core” made in China! The parts of the Type-20 series of weapons have appeared),” China Central Television [央视网] (PRC State Media), 8 November 2022.

The 14th China Air Show began on 8 November. The new Type 20 series of firearms which was independently developed by China, made a “Group” appearance.

According to Zhang Lu [张路], Assistant to the General Manager of Chongqing Construction Industry [重庆建设工业](a subsidiary of China Ordnance Equipment Group Corporation, developer of the weapons), “The Type 20 series have high reliability, and easy adaptability to the needs of global combat environments.”

Compared to the previous Type-95 series of rifles, the Type-20 series are lightweight and more portable. A major technological breakthrough for the new rifles is improvements in reliability and service life. In the past, a gun could only fire 5,000-10,000 rounds. The Type 20 series doubles this service life.

The largest group within the Type 20 series is the new generation of 5.8mm rifles which include standard battle rifles, carbines, and three precision variants.

Compared with the Type-95 series and the Type 20 series various optics can be used making them suitable for different combat requirements. The series also adopts a transparent magazine for rifles to make it clearer how many rounds remain.


[i] China Ordnance Equipment Group Corporation [中国兵器装备集团有限公司].

[ii] Type 20 New Weapon Series [20式新枪族].

[iii] For greater detail regarding the new rifle see: Peter Wood, “China Introduces New Battle Rifle for the PLA,” OE Watch, December 2019.

[iv] For more details regarding the camouflage types see: Peter Wood, “PLA Adopts New Digital Camouflage for All Services,” OE Watch, May 2020.

[v] For background regarding China’s previous squad support weapons see: Peter Wood, “Why the PLA Adopted the Type 95 Light Support Weapon,” OE Watch, May 2020.

Image Information:

Image: Chinese Small Arms.
Source: Created by Author
Attribution: Image by Peter Wood