NORINCO Weapon System Installed on Fiery Cross Reef

On May 17, China’s state-run newspaper, the Defense Times, reported that Beijing had installed China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) CS/AR-155mm anti-frogman rocket launchers on Fiery Cross Reef.   It is believed to be a response – at least in part – to past Philippine activities, namely when, in 2014, divers installed fishing nets near the islands.  Fiery Cross is claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, but China has constructed considerable infrastructure on the island, including an airstrip as well as military radar and defense systems.

NORINCO is one of China’s primary military equipment exporters, but it is also involved in a range of more commercial activities.  For example, it has been involved in supplying subway trains to Iran, constructing a subway line in Pakistan, working with Moscow on a joint satellite navigation venture and was involved in a trade and investment deal with Russia (in December 2015) in the areas of motor-car construction, machine tools, electronics, energy and medical equipment.  NORINCO subsidiary, Wanbao Mining, also reportedly operates in the contentious Letpadaung copper mine in Myanmar where it was accused of forcefully relocating local communities.  In 2012, reports even indicated a NORINCO subsidiary, Hebei Lingyun, acquired Kierket, a German automotive component supplier.

NORINCO markings were also discovered on the gas canisters used in the May 2015 chlorine gas attack by the Assad regime (and it is also believed to have supplied conventional arms to the Syrian military).  More recently, NORINCO has provided military equipment to Thailand, South Sudan, Pakistan, Senegal, Indonesia, Iran and others.