China Supplies QBZ-03 Rifle to United Wa State Army

China appears to be supplying QBZ-03 / Type 03 rifles to the United Wa State Army. These rifles along were among the weapons on display at a celebration of the 23rd anniversary of the Wa mutiny against the Communist Party of Burma. China, it seems, does not play favorites and is quite willing to supply both the Burmese (Myanmar) government as well as the minority armies, also called the “cease fire groups”, inside the country.

The 5.8×42 mm Type 03 is the convectional layout version of the Type 95 / QBZ-95 bullpup rifle. Externally it resembles the AK, but internally it is quite different.

The last time I wrote about the United Wa State Army was in 2008 when it was reported that they were supplementing their alleged opium, heroine and methamfetamine income with arms manufacturing. Some more recent reports seem to indicate that in exchange for aid they begun to exit the drug trade. These rifles may have been part of a deal with China to exit the arms blackmarket. I would not be surprised if the arms manufacturing story had been fabricated by the UWSA in order to bring another bargaining chip to the table when negotiating with the Chinese government arms dealers.

[ Many thanks to Albi for emailing us the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • higgs

    As a Washington resident I was so confused for a few seconds.

  • John J

    Anyone else realize how staged those photo’s are? Look at their uniforms. All look 100% new, never worn once. Boots don’t have any dirt on them even though they’re surrounded by dirt.

    • higgs

      It was a celebration. Why would they wear nasty utilities to that?

  • Charles F.

    Now, if the PLA would only supply arms to the Karen and Karenni armies, as well as to the Shan and Kachin, we might get somewhere. For too long the Burmans have been engaged in genocide against the various minorities and hill tribes.
    For now, the Karen and Karenni armies have been making do with Viet Nam war era castoffs, which are worn out.

    • Other Steve

      I was just about to post that exact same thing… Sort of 🙂

    • fgt

      They are, actually. The Karen and Kachin militias were seen some time ago being armed with local produced/modified Type 81 versions (amongs them, even with modified barrel housing an integral silencer and other stuff), as well as heavy weapons such as mortars and 12.7mm HMGs.

      China is very displeased with the Myanmar Govt recently defying China in many fields, like energy contracts (such as that one dam project by China that was shafted by the Myanmar govt), resource projects, and new, disccriminative policies against chinese ethnic people living in Myanmar and chinese traders, that are slowly resembling the all-out anti-chinese policies (that led to pogroms against them) of the burmese military regime in the past.

      All in all, China is clearly frustrated by all this – and on top of that with the US trying to cozy up with the “new” Myanmar “civlilian” govt – so that they decided to balance it out by arming the very ethnic rebels who oppossed the Myanmar govt for so long.

      Fittingly, these ethnic rebels (especially the Kachin and the Wa) are also pretty close to the Chinese in terms of ethnicy, and even language – with a portion of them being descendants of the remainders of Chiang Kai Shek’s Chinese Nationalist expeditionary troops ofhe Burma Campaign in WWII, who stayed there after the KMT was driven off to Taiwan… So, the support of these “lost brohers” are also well supported emotionally from the Chinese population, who know and care about this matter…

  • Yves

    I´m no pretty sure but i thought that the QBZ-03 / Type 03 rifles were esencially a Types 81 in 5.8×43 (hybrid between AK and SKS) and with plastic parts instead the wood ones meanwhile the Type 95 / QBZ-95 was a bullpup AK with a FA-MAS style carrying handle.

    • W

      both the QBZ95 and 03 have a lot in common with the type 81. they borrow from the 81’s short stroke gas operating system. The 03 seems to be just a updated 81 and the 95 seems to be a bullpup variant.

  • ragnarok220

    Don’t know if those are real QBZ03s. Just look at the trigger guard and the handguard, and compare them to the picture below.

    • Well spotted. I think they are probably real just with a different trigger guard. It could be that China intentionally changed the design in order to track them or to claim they are copies of the original (plausible deniability).

      Its not a design that would be worth copying. Much easier and a much bigger market to just copy and AK.

      • ragnarok220

        Speaking of deniability, see the first picture, there is no serial number on the lower receiver. Is it missing charging handle and rear sight as well ???

    • Xiao

      The rifle in the first photo is a rubber training tool, hence the lack of a charging handle.

    • fgt

      These QBZ03 are training rubber guns. Not real ones.

      Though I do not doubt that China supplied real ones too…

  • Lemming

    A few RPD’s in the bottom picture, interesting.

  • Liv

    “I would not be surprised if the arms manufacturing story had been fabricated by the UWSA in order to bring another bargaining chip to the table when negotiating with the Chinese government arms dealers.”

    I thought this blog was about firearms and not speculative political fud.

  • Nick W.

    ‘Heroin’ is an opiate; ‘Heroine’ is a female hero.

  • Firearms are great. They could be useful to protect our community from terrorist and to other aspects of crime. Thank you for the information.

  • Lance

    May be a bit a favoritism the Burmese Army uses mostly Type 56 rifles and carbines and some Type 81 rifles too. Giving these guerrillas new Type 03s shows a bit a favoritism.

    • ragnarok220

      Burmese Army mostly DON’T use Chinese made small arms, they most use locally produced Galils/G3s/HK33s. The AKs/Type 81s are captured stock from Ethnic Insurgents and Narco Armies.

      • Lance

        Im NOT saying Burma uses only Type 56s and Type 81s BUT like Cambodia they do have some in service. Only Cambodian and Bangladesh SOF have Type 95s or 03s in service out of China. Overall while yes most Burmese units have Russian AKMs and G3s ect there are some minor sales of Chinese 7.62mm weapons to the Burmese Dictatorship.

        • Minn

          i’ve seen more myanmar servicemen with SKSs, emerks, g-3 and even 70’s era m-16s than anything else. An m1carbine or an SMLE here and there. I dont know where you get your information from but i have never seen a tatmadaw unit armed with russian akms. The burmese have traditionally stuck to the nato 5.56 and 7.62 rounds so why complicate logistics by using akms?

      • ragnarok220

        Burma and Cambodia are NOT alike, because Burma actually has its own defence industries, and Cambodia is heavily depended on foreign suppliers.

        Cambodian SOF has some QBZ 97 in service but they don’t have QBZ 03. Bangladesh has NEVER purchased any QBZs, it was Sri Lanka.

        Most Burmese units DO NOT use Russian AKMs, they use locally produced Galil rifles and locally produced G3s. It doesn’t need to buy any 7.62 mm weapons from China because it can make its own MG3s and FN MAGs.

        Please don’t make any random assumptions.

      • Lance

        Sorry the Myanmar military has AKMs and Type 56s and 81 in service I DID NOT say they where the most common weapon in service. They also use Gailil copies and some G3s from years earlier. But most of there weapons tanks and planes in particular came from Russia and tank wise China before they went to buying ex-Ukrainian T-72s from the Ukraine.

        My main point was China by arming Narco and other terrorist groups in the nation want to destabilize the dictatorship and possibly replace it. From a mostly pro-Russian to a pro-Chinese government. Much like there illconcived backing of the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese invasion of 79 mostly to push then pro-Soviet movement over in favor of there own pro-Chinese movement.

  • Doesitmatter?

    This QBZ-03 is probably comparable with anything western. I can see modern architecture, operating principle and materials not to mention ammunition – all up to date. It resembles SIG-550 line in many ways. Does someone know about a test or video on it elsewhere on net?

    • Lance

      The Type 03 is a Type 81 action but uses a newer 5.8mm round instead of the classic 7.62×39 the Type 81 used.

      • noob

        what would it take to get a rifle and 1000 of those export 5.8mm rounds from burma to the usa for some testing and evaluation?

    • fgt

      It is a short-stroke gas piston system with rotating bolt. For the time of the early 80’s, the Type 81 which alrady featured this system, was very advanced in that time, being the first deployed service rifle in the world with that system.

      The QBZ03 is thus just like any other modern western short-stroke gas-piston assault rifle deployed today.

  • Mike Knox

    Dood in the first pic looks like mornig wood with a face and had a spiked breakfast..

  • chino

    IIRC, the Burmese military is now using a locally-made EmerK rifle in 5.56mm. So wouldn’t the 5.8mm ammo be quite rare?

    • Minn

      the Burmese military uses the qbz 97 variant in 5.56. There are huge numbers of type 81s in the border areas but i don’t know about the UWSA receiving the qbz.