Thursday, February 6, 2014

UK think tank: Asian defense spending accelerating

A British think tank says the speed of military expansion in East Asia is outpacing that of the West.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies says Asian defense spending last year was nearly 12 percent higher than in 2010.

The institute released its annual report on Wednesday based on its assessment of global military capabilities and regional security situations.

The report says China, Japan and South Korea were Asia's largest spenders, accounting for more than half of the region's overall defense spending. It says China's budget dwarfed its neighbors, and China now spends about three times as much as India on defense...and more than Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam combined.
The report says China's primary focus almost certainly remains Taiwan. But it says rising strategic tensions among major powers in the region, including the United States, are also behind China's growing military capabilities.

The report also cites China's claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands. It says diplomatic pressure and the deployment of maritime paramilitary forces in support of its claim to the islands contributed to a more assertive Japanese posture. It says Tokyo's concern was also provoked by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and aggressive behavior.

Security analysts at the think tank stress the need for some mechanism to manage military-to-military consultations between China and Japan. They say that the mechanism could help reduce the risk of tactical encounters at sea or in the air, possibly leading to a strategic crisis.