chapter  1
23 Pages

The Asian arms race phenomenon

The vibrant post-Cold War global trade in arms stems from the continually high military expenditures as well as strong demand for modern weapons systems. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that over a ten-year period from 1998 to 2007, world military expenditure rose in real terms by 45 per cent, with signifi cant increases of over 50 per cent in all continents except for Europe. 1 SIPRI also reported that the global fi nancial crisis (GFC) and economic recession in 2008 had ‘not led to a general fall in military spending, despite the resulting falls in government revenues and increases in defi cits’. 2 By 2011, worldwide military spending had reached US$1.738 trillion. 3

More interestingly, although Asia’s share of global military expenditure in 2011 was US$364 billion, compared to US$809 billion for North America and US$407 billion for Europe, it had increased its military expenditure in real terms by 61 per cent compared to 2002. 4 Indeed, SIPRI reported that over the period 2007-11, the top fi ve recipients of major conventional arms imports were all Asian states, namely, India, South Korea, Pakistan, China and Singapore. Together, they accounted for 30 per cent of global arms imports over the period. 5 Thus, the rise in international arms transfers has been driven by demand in Asia.