China defends arms trade regime following report ranking China as fifth largest exporter

China has defended its rules on overseas weapons sales following a report ranking the country fifth in arms exports.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday that such sales follow domestic laws and U.N. guidelines. Hong said weapons sales have to be justified by the legitimate needs of the recipient and must not harm peace, security or stability.

Sweden's Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported Monday that China had overtaken Britain as the world's fifth largest arms exporter over the five-year period from 2008 to 2012. China had a 5 percent share of global arms exports, far behind leader the United States, with 30 percent, Russia with 26, Germany with 7 percent, and France with six.

Sales to ally Pakistan accounted for much of the Chinese growth, the report said.