STOCKHOLM - China has bypassed Britain as the world's fifth-largest arms exporter, a Swedish think tank said Monday.

The volume of Chinese weapons exports rose by 162 percent in the five years from 2008 to '12, compared with the previous five-year period, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its report. That means China's share of all international arms exports increased to 5 percent from 2 percent, and the country climbed to fifth from eighth in the rankings.

The largest buyer of Chinese weapons was Pakistan, which accounted for 55 percent of the country's exports, followed by Myanmar with 8 percent and Bangladesh with 7 percent, the institute said.

"China's rise has been driven primarily by large-scale arms acquisitions by Pakistan," said Paul Holtom of the research group's Arms Transfers Programme. "However, a number of recent deals indicate that China is establishing itself as a significant arms supplier to a growing number of important recipient states."

Such deals include the sale of three frigates to Algeria, eight transport aircraft to Venezuela and 54 tanks to Morocco, SIPRI said.

The U.S. remained the world's top arms exporter during the 2008-12 period, with 30 percent of the global volume. Russia was second with 26 percent, Germany third with 7 percent, and France fourth with 6 percent, the research group said.

China's move into the top five means Britain (now in sixth place) dropped off the list of the top five for the first time since at least 1950, the earliest year covered by the institute's data.

The institute said Asia dominated the global imports of weapons.

the rankings

The top 5 arms exporters in 2008-12 (share of international exports in parenthesis):

1. United States (30 percent)

2. Russia (26).

3. Germany (7).

4. France (6).

5. China (5).

The top 5 arms importers in 2008-12 (share of international imports in parenthesis):

1. India (12 percent).

2. China (6).

3. Pakistan (5).

4. South Korea (5).

5. Singapore (4).