From the PLAAF's standpoint, the JF-17 offers modest capabilities to the options China could acquire. Older types such as the J-8H/F 'Finback' and J-7G 'Airguard' will continue service in their upgraded guises for years to come, and may be acquired and developed into more advanced versions to keep the Chinese aerospace industry ticking and to fulfil the 'lower end' requirements of the PLAAF.
However, the JF-17 would offer more than the older type can and would be more effective than even the latest J-8F series. The main argument against the JF-17 stems from the need to support domestic Chinese industries. The high foreign content (namely the engine) would be a fatal handicap, however, efforts to acquire a license to produce the RD-93 (as the WS-13A) seem to be making progress and may persuade the PLAAF to accept the JF-17.
There is talk of developing a naval variant of the JF-17 for the PLAN (People's Liberation Army Navy) However, such talk should be treated with caution as it remains a suggestion and by no means definite. Such a decision would depend however, on the size of the PLAN's future carriers, but the larger the carriers the more likely that the Su-33 or navalised J-10 would be chosen owing to the JF-17's comparative weaknesses in range and payload.
Whatever the PLAAF's final stand on the JF-17 will remain to be seen but its hopes are expected to lie in the export market African, Middle Eastern nations and even Central Asian states. In many circles, it will have to compete with other products such as surplus F-16s and MiG-29s and even the J-10. An up-powered version of the Korean F/A-50 'Golden Eagle' may also provide stiff competition as its current powerplant (the GE F404-402 engine with 17,700 lb. of thrust). The type would also have to prove itself worthy as these aircraft as many potential clients may be evaluating them for induction. The JF-17 will always have the advantages of a cheaper price tag and comparatively simple maintaince, while a wider range of electronic selections.
With hundreds of MiG-21s operational in Central Asian states and problems encountered keeping other aircraft airworthy an infusion of JF-17 as a common replacement would appear to make sense especially if its cost was lower than surplus MiG-29s. However, this would depend on Russia's willingness to supply the RD-93 engine to some of these potential client states or extend a license to them without Russian approval first. Bangladesh are expected to purchase the type, and there's also talk from Nepal and Burma.
It might even be possible for an 'enhanced' JF-17 to be offered for export to more affluent clients, especially to South American countries or richer South East Asian states. It wouldn't be difficult to develop a variant based on composite materials and revised aerodynamic structures with provisions for a powerplant other than the RD-93 at a customer's request.