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Global Insights: China's Military Buildup Stokes Regional Arms Race

Richard Weitz Tuesday, March 16, 2010

China's Southeast Asian neighbors are engaging in a sustained military buildup, with their imports of major conventional weapons systems almost doubling in volume in the five-year period from 2005 to 2009, compared to the 2000-2004 period. Although some of these imports may have replaced obsolete weapons or matched purchases by other Southeast Asian countries, China's massive military buildup is an important factor driving the region's defense modernization efforts.

According to the latest data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), imports of major conventional arms by Indonesia rose by 84 percent in the two five-year periods. For Singapore, the increase was 146 percent. And Malaysia imported an astounding 722 percent more arms between 2005 and 2009 than it did during the previous five years. The large volume of weapons purchased by Singapore has resulted in that country becoming the first state in Southeast Asia to rank among the world's top 10 arms importers since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. ...

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