Despite economic slowdown:
Asia forking out on defence
SINGAPORE: Incr-eased military spending by China and India is forcing
other Asia-Pacific countries to modernise their armed forces despite the
severe impact of the global financial crisis, experts say.
Data from defence research firm Jane’s Information Group estimates
total military spending in the region rising year-on-year — from about
220 billion dollars in 2008 to 239 billion dollars this year and higher
still in 2010. Those figures include external defence and homeland
security and cover a region stretching from Central Asia to Australia.
“India and China are forcing the countries to think very hard
strategically about their defence capabilities,” Jon Grevatt, a regional
defence specialist with Jane’s, told AFP from Bangkok.
He said that although money is tight across the region, “the pressure
of not spending on defence is very high due to the considerable military
influence that China and India are assuming in this part of the world.”
Even countries not bordering China and India are upgrading their
Singapore, despite suffering its worst-ever economic slowdown, will
increase its defence spending by an annual 6.0 percent to 7.53 billion
dollars in the new fiscal year starting April, the government says.
The city-state’s immediate neighbours, Indonesia, Malaysia and
Thailand are all poised to follow suit, Grevatt said.
“What you can see in Southeast Asia is something like a mini arms
race with capabilities such as submarines and armoured vehicles being
acquired,” Grevatt added.
China and India have both amassed wealth after years of rapid
economic growth. “They want to use that wealth to develop and procure
military capability so that they are perceived as a country that can
defend their assets,” said Jane’s Grevatt.