Traditionally, China relied heavily on Russia for military imports. However, since 2015 China has significantly increased its advanced weapons capabilities and is now the fourth largest arms exporter behind the U.S., Russia, and France. Although China is growing its military defense considerably, China still relies on imports from some countries. According to SIPRI, in addition to Russia, the next largest sources of weapons imports come from France and Ukraine. In fact, from 2016-2020 China was Ukraine's largest recipient of Ukrainian exports at 36%. In 2020 China was ranked as the sixth largest importer of weapons.
With China's rise in military independence has caused it to accelerate much quicker than Russia. This is likely due to China's increased defense budget. In 2020, China spent roughly $252 billion dollars on military capabilities whereas Russia only spent $67 billion. Nonetheless, China has learned from Russia and started arming its neighbors in several Asian countries. Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar have been China's primary export recipients for decades. However, China has recently started to also export to many countries in Africa. China has increased the number of countries it exports from 40 countries between 2010-2014 to 53 countries from 2015-2019.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine might actually help China's numbers as well. As many countries continue to cease importing from Russia, China's arms sales might see an increase. Russia might not be able to produce military equipment as fast as it used to due to current sanctions against Moscow. The difficulties Russia has been facing in production is likely to result in countries purchasing weapons from other countries, such as China. Aside from the invasion of Ukraine, China is likely to continue to import less and export more in the coming years.