China North Industries (NORINCO)

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Last Updated: September 1, 2009
Other Name: 北方工业集团公司
Location: Beijing, China
Subordinate To: China North Industries Group Corporation [CNGC/NORINCO(G)] and China South Industries Group (CSG)
Size: Large state-owned enterprise of civilian and military products and services; Numerous subsidiary companies with operations in over 100 countries.[1]
Facility Status: Active

China North Industries (NORINCO) is the main import-export company for China’s largest arms manufacturer, China North Industries Group Corporation [CNGC/NORINCO(G)], as well as China South Industries Group Corporation (CSG). NORINCO(G) and CSG both own 50 percent of the NORINCO’s shares.[2] A vast conglomerate, NORINCO’s defense products include precision strike systems, amphibious assault weapons and equipment, anti-aircraft & anti-missile systems, information and night vision products, anti-terrorism & anti-riot equipment, as well as small arms.[3]

China’s former Fifth Ministry of Machine-Building established NORINCO in 1979 to mask its military affiliation in order to import advanced machinery.[4] China’s Central Military Commission and the State Council signed Ratification Circular No. 55 in 1980 to formally legalize arms exports and put NORINCO in charge.[5] The Fifth Ministry became the Ministry of Ordnance and later was corporatized as the China Ordnance Industries Corporation (COIC) in 1988.[6] During institutional reforms in 1999, NORINCO(G) and CSG formed out of COIC, with NORINCO remaining the predominant export-import company.[7]

NORINCO came under U.S. scrutiny for sales of missile components to sanctioned states. In the fall of 2000, Iraq sought 200 gyroscopes which were suitable for Russian and Chinese cruise missiles from NORINCO, but no delivery was established.[8] 23 May 2003, the U.S. State Department announced that the U.S. government had imposed sanctions against NORINCO for supplying materials to Iran’s missile program, with press reports indicating the sale of dual-use items to Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group.[9] From 2002 to 2007 the U.S. government sanctioned NORINCO seven times in accordance with the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, its successor the Iran Syria Nonproliferation Act of 2005, and Executive Orders 12938 and 13094.[10]

In 2006 NORINCO began working on development of an internal compliance program (ICP), and in December 2008, NORINCO and CMEC’s presidents signed statements on adherence to weapons nonproliferation, export control, and internal compliance.[11] The U.S. government allowed remaining sanctions on NORINCO to expire in December 2007.[12] Reports in September 2011 indicate that NORINCO, China National Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC), and China Xinxing Import and Export Corporation may have attempted to sell arms, including surface-to-air missiles (SAM), to Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s former regime in Libya in violation of UNSCR 1970.[13]

NORINCO’s subsidiaries include manufacturers of dual-use items suitable for WMD programs. The Nanjing Xugang Instrument Plant, the Jiangsu Shugang Opto-Electronics Instrument Factory, and the Benxi Precision Machinery Plant manufacture various precision machinery and other dual-use items.[14] Yet NORINCO’s advertised products consist of conventional military systems, which are displayed at numerous defense exhibitions such as the Africa Aerospace and Defense Exhibition,[15] the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX),[16] Defense Services Asia Exhibition (DSA),[17] Land and Airland Defence and Security international exhibition (Eurosatory)[18] among others. NORINCO’s missile-related, though not necessarily WMD-capable, products include the following:

  • Precision strike systems such as the Red Arrow 7, 8 and 9 series Anti-Tank Missile System, and the 105 mm Gun-Launched Missile;[19]
  • Anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems such as the LD2000 anti-aircraft system (incorporates TY-90 SAM missiles), and the AF902 Radar/Twin 35 mm AA Gun/PL-9C Missile integrated air defense system;[20]
  • Air to ground missiles such as the Blue Arrow-7 (BA-7), an optically guided missile for the PLA’s Petrodactyl-1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and potentially other UAV platforms;[21] and
  • Conventional high explosives systems such as a 250kg fuel-air bomb (thermobaric weapon) and a 250kg low-drag low-altitude fragmentation bomb.[22]

Sources:
[1] “Introduction,” NORINCO, www.norinco.com.
[2] James Mulvenon and Rebecca Samm Tyrloler-Cooper, “China’s Defense Industry on the Path of Reform,” Report prepared for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, October 2009. www.uscc.gov
[3] “Introduction,” NORINCO, www.norinco.com.
[4] Hua Di, "China's Arms Proliferation Perspective: Prospects for Change Due To Economic Reforms;" in W. Thomas Wander and Eric H. Arnett, eds., The Proliferation of Advanced Weaponry: Technology, Motivations, and Responses, 1992, p. 126; Yan Kong, "China's Arms Trade Bureaucracy," Jane's Intelligence Review, February 1994, p. 81.
[5] Hua Di, "China's Arms Proliferation Perspective: Prospects for Change Due To Economic Reforms;" in W. Thomas Wander and Eric H. Arnett, eds., The Proliferation of Advanced Weaponry: Technology, Motivations, and Responses, 1992, p. 126; Yan Kong, "China's Arms Trade Bureaucracy," Jane's Intelligence Review, February 1994, p. 81.
[6] Daniel Pinkston, “Testimony of Daniel A. Pinkston, PhD” before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s Hearing on China’s Proliferation Practices and Its Role in the North Korea Nuclear Crisis, 10 March 2005.
[7] James Mulvenon and Rebecca Samm Tyrloler-Cooper, “China’s Defense Industry on the Path of Reform,” Report prepared for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, October 2009.
[8] U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, “Regime Finance and Procurement,” Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD, 30 September 2004, www.cia.gov.
[9] Phillip C. Saunders and Stephanie C. Lieggie, “What’s Behind U.S. Nonproliferation Sanctions against Norinco?” Center for Nonproliferation Studies Feature Story, 30 May 2003.
[10] For list see: “Appendix 5: List of U.S. Sanctions Imposed on Chinese Entities from June 2004 to October 2008,” in U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, “2008 Report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission,” distributed 20 November 2008.
[11] Shirley Kan, “China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues [CRS RL31555],” Congressional Research Service, 25 April 2012, p. 67.
[12] U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, “2008 Report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission,” distributed 20 November 2008, p. 386.
[13] Michael Wines, “Beijing Says Qaddafi Officials Sought Chinese Arms Supplies,” The New York Times, 5 September 2011, www.nytimes.com.
[14] China North Industries (NORINCO), Jane’s World Defence Industry, 10 January 2012. www.janes.com.
[15] Wendell Minnick, "China Comes to Africa," Defense News, 13 September 2010, www.defensenews.com.
[16] “IDEX: NORINCO Unveils Latest SH1 Artillery System,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 22 February 2011. www.janes.com.
[17] “Norinco Participated in DSA2012,” NORINCO, www.norinco.com.cn.
[18] “Norinco Attended 2012 Eurosatory,” NORINCO, www.norinco.com.cn.
[19] “Products and Services,” NORINCO, www.norinco.com.cn.
[20] “Products and Services,” NORINCO, www.norinco.com.cn.
[21] Richard D. Fisher, Jr., “Sky Stalkers: Chinese Military Commits to Broad UAV Development,” Defense Technology International, July/August 2011, p. 36.
[22] “Products and Services,” NORINCO, www.norinco.com.cn.

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