Last modified on May 20, 2019, at 04:13


The China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) manufactures vehicles (trucks, cars and motorcycles), machinery, optical-electronic products, oil field equipment, chemicals, light industrial products, explosives and blast materials, civil firearms and ammunition, etc. It also does domestic civil construction projects.

Norinco is also known outside of China for its high-tech defense products, some of which are adaptations of Soviet equipment. Norinco produces precision strike systems, amphibious assault weapons and equipment, long-range suppression weapon systems, anti-aircraft & anti-missile systems, information & night vision products,[1] high-effect destruction systems, fuel air bombs, anti-terrorism & anti-riot equipment and small arms. It was created in the early 1980s.

Norinco was established in 1980 with the approval of the State Council of China, and is overseen by the Commission on Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND). According to the congressional testimony of Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in 1997, Norinco subsidiaries in the U.S. include: Beta Chemical, Beta First, Beta Lighting, Beta Unitex, China Sports (California), Forte Lighting, Larin, NIC International (New Jersey). [2][3]

In 1994, some employees of Norinco came under American investigation from both the FBI as well as the BATF after a successful sting dubbed “Operation Dragon Fire.” In May 1996, in what was called "the largest seizure of fully operational automatic weapons in U.S. history,"[4] 14 individuals and an Atlanta, Georgia company were indicted for the unlicensed importation and sale of 2000 AK-47's into the United States. U.S. Customs agents posing as arms traffickers convinced a group of Chinese arms dealers, including three Norinco representatives, that they were in the market to buy guns for drug rings and street gangs.[5] "The defendants offered the government undercover agents more sophisticated weapons, including hand-held rocket launchers, mortars, anti-aircraft missiles, silenced machine guns and even tanks," said a spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service.[6] The Customs Service discovered during the investigation that these weapons were bound for Oakland, California street gangs.[7] According to an affidavit signed by two of the undercover agents involved in the investigation, representatives from Norinco offered to sell urban gangs shoulder-held missile launchers capable of downing a large commercial airliner.

In August 2003, the Bush administration imposed sanctions on Norinco for allegedly selling missile-related goods to Iran.[8] While not formally joining the multinational effort to restrict the proliferation of missiles, China did commit in 2000 not to assist in any way the development by other countries of MTCR-class missiles. Neither the Chinese government nor Norinco has denied doing business with Iranian companies, although they did deny that it was for missile related purposes at the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, Iran's key manufacturer of ballistic and non ballistic missiles.[9][10][11] Norinco has called the sanctions "groundless and unjustified" and "entirely unreasonable."[12]

In May 2004, Norinco won the contract to build Tehran Subway Line 4 with Tehran Railway Company in Iran. The total amount of this contract is over 800 million (U.S. dollars) and is China's biggest international project contract to date. The project is estimated to take up to six years to complete.


  4. Anatomy of a Sting, Michael S. Serrill, Time magazine, Jun. 24, 2001.
  5. Massive Seizure of New Automatic Weapons Illegally Smuggled by PRC Weapons Producers, U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, May 23, 1996. Retrieved from CourtTV September 25, 2007.
  6. Feds seize 'incredible arsenal', U.S. agent says China was aware of weapons-smuggling operation, CNN, May 23, 1996.
  7. Chinese firm hit with U.S. sanctions, By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, May 23, 2003.
  8. Chinese firm hit with U.S. sanctions, By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, May 23, 2003.
  9. US punishes firms in Iran and China, BBC, 23 May 2003
  10. Hemmat Industrial Complex. Retrieved from September 25, 2007.
  11. Background Note: China, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
  12. NORINCO Issues Statement on US Sanctions, Peoples Daily Online, Beijing June 06, 2003. English language Version.

External links