Report: China threat spurs ‘long overdue’ military upgrades throughout Asia

Special to

Asian Pacific nations are spending big on “long overdue” military upgrades to counter the threat posed by China, according to a IHS Jane’s report.

Japanese ships during an Oct. 18, 2015 fleet review off Sagami Bay. /AFP
Japanese ships during an Oct. 18, 2015 fleet review off Sagami Bay. /AFP

In 2015, nine of the 20 fastest-growing defense budgets were in the Asian Pacific, the report said. By 2020, total military spending in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is expected to reach $533 billion a year, up from from $435 billion in 2015.

“Rising tensions in APAC have seen a long overdue process of military modernization move up the political agenda in a number of countries,” Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at IHS Jane’s wrote in the report. “The Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam are all following China’s lead and we see no sign of this trend coming to an end.”

The rise in global defense spending is also benefiting China, which saw its share of global arms exports rise to 5.9 percent in 2011-2015, up from 3.6 percent in 2006 to 2010, according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Pakistan accounted for 35 percent of China’s weapon sales, followed by Bangladesh and Myanmar, at 20 percent and 16 percent. China supplied arms to 37 countries in 2011-2015.

The U.S. market share rose to 33 percent in the latest five-year period, up from 29 percent. Russia’s share increased to 25 percent from 22 percent. China now ranks as the world’s third-largest provider, overtaking France, which has 5.6 percent in the latest period, down from 7.1 percent.