SANYA, China, April 13 (Reuters) – Africa’s largest privately owned defence company, Paramount Group, sees China as an ideal market for its armoured vehicles and would like to manufacture in the country, its executive chairman said on Wednesday.
Ivor Ichikowitz told Reuters that were China to experience internal unrest of the sort now convulsing the Middle East, it would not have the right equipment to pacify large crowds.
“Through the experience we’ve had in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa, we’ve come to learn that a lot of internal conflict that results in uncontrollable uprisings is as a result of governments rolling in the tanks,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in the southern Chinese resort of Sanya.
“You try and control a riot with a tank, you’re going to get a violent reaction. You bring in the big guns and people are going to want to throw the big guns back at you,” he added.
“This is a very important doctrine consideration in a place like China. Right now, if China was faced with internal unrest, the only capability they have would be military capability — they’d have to roll in the tanks,” Ichikowitz said.
While there have been no signs of Chinese taking to the streets in large numbers to protest against the government as they did in 1989, Beijing remains wary that unrest in the Middle East could prompt demonstrations closer to home.
“Tiananmen Square’s now 20 years ago, and you could do that (then). Today you can’t. Today that’s just inciting trauma. We believe that there’s a necessity in China to gear up with appropriate internal security equipment … (which) matches the right level of protection for police and for riot control personnel without being overtly offensive, said Ichikowitz.
“This is not technology that’s being developed in many places and it happens to be a really, really strong capability that Paramount has and that South Africa has.”
China’s spending on police and domestic surveillance will hit new heights this year, with “public security” outlays unveiled last month outstripping the defence budget for the first time as Beijing cracks down on protest calls.