Asian countries accumulate weapons as China tensions grow

Kyodo News

Posted at Mar 14 2022 12:53 PM

LONDON - Some Asian and Oceanian nations are ramping up weapons purchases as they become increasingly wary of China's growing regional ambition, a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute showed Monday.

The report compared weapons transactions worldwide for the five years through 2021 to the previous five years through 2016. It showed that out of the top 10 arms importers, six were from Asia and Oceania.

India was the top importer, accounting for 11 percent of the total, but imports into the region as a whole actually decreased by 4.7 percent, indicating a wide variance in purchases among sub-regions, the report noted.

Japan's imports increased by 2.5 times, making it the 10th-largest importer in the world. Australia, China, South Korea and Pakistan were also ranked in the top 10.

Asia and Oceania, the world's largest arms importing region over the past 30 years, received 43 percent of global transfers from 2017 to 2021.

"Tensions between China and many states in Asia and Oceania are the main driver of arms imports in the region," the report quoted Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the institute's Arms Transfers Program, as saying.

The total global arms trade, including imports and exports, fell 4.6 percent, the report said.

Imports to Ukraine, before its recent invasion by Russia, were "very limited" as the country's budget was tight and major exporters limited supply for fear of escalating the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine, according to the institute.

As for exports, the United States remained the world's biggest weapons supplier, accounting for 39 percent of the total. The country's exports rose 14 percent. Russia, the second-largest exporter, saw its trade fall 26 percent.

The rise in U.S. exports was mainly owing to increased transactions with Saudi Arabia, Australia, South Korea and Japan, according to the institute. U.S. exports to Japan expanded 2.7 times.

"The USA remains the largest supplier to Asia and Oceania, as arms exports are an important element of U.S. foreign policy aimed at China," Wezeman said.

The United States, Russia, France, China and Germany accounted for more than three-fourths of the world's exports, the report said.



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