The Asia-Pacific Region will spend $533 billion on defense annually by 2020. That’s very close to what the United States spends on defense, and a lot more than the region used to. Bloombergreports that China and countries squaring off against China are responsible for the unprecedented surge.
The People’s Republic of China has been increasing defense spending about 10 percent annually for more than two decades. Although dramatic, for most of the 90s and aughts, it still left the impression that China was militarily weak: In 1989, it spent only ten times more on its military than New Zealand and hadn’t been involved in a shooting war for decades.
All of that changed after 2010, when China took an assertive, even aggressive stance against Japanese territorial claims in the East China Sea, including the establishment of an Air Defense Intercept Zone over the sea. Since then, China has gone on to claim approximately 90 percent of the South China Sea, alarming its neighbors.
This newly assertive behavior has spooked the rest of Asia, and as a result defense spending started to creep upward. According to Bloomberg, military spending globally is up one percent, but spending in Asia and Oceania is up five percent. Almost every country in Asia—Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and others—are all raising spending. If current trends hold, all of Asia will be spending $533 billion by the year 2020.
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