Asian countries accumulate weapons as tensions with China grow

Stockholm, Sweden | Mon, March 14, 2022

According to a research released Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, certain Asian and Oceanian countries are increasing their weapons acquisitions as they become more apprehensive of China’s growing regional aspirations. The analysis compares global weapons transactions from 2013 to 2021 to the previous five years from 2013 to 2016.

Six of the top ten weaponry importers were from Asia and Oceania, according to the report. India was the leading importer, accounting for 11% of total imports, although imports into the region as a whole fell by 4.7 percent, indicating wide disparities in buying amongst sub-regions, according to the research.

Japan’s imports surged 2.5-fold, making it the world’s tenth-largest importer. In the top ten, Australia, China, South Korea, and Pakistan were also ranked. Between 2017 and 2021, Asia and Oceania, the world’s greatest arms importing region over the previous 30 years, got 43 percent of worldwide transfers.

The report quotes Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the institute’s Arms Transfers Program, as saying, “Tensions between China and numerous states in Asia and Oceania are the main driver of arms imports in the region.” According to the research, the total global arms trade, including imports and exports, decreased by 4.6 percent.

According to the institute, imports to Ukraine were “extremely constrained” prior to Russia’s recent incursion since the country’s budget was tight and major exporters restrained supply for fear of exacerbating the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine. In terms of weapons exports, the US remained the world’s largest provider, accounting for 39% of the total. The country’s exports increased by 14%. Russia, the world’s second-largest exporter, witnessed a 26% drop in trade.

According to the institution, the increase in US exports was primarily due to increasing transactions with Saudi Arabia, Australia, South Korea, and Japan. Exports from the United States to Japan increased by 2.7 times. “As arms exports are an important element of US foreign policy aimed at China,” Wezeman said, “the United States remains the major provider to Asia and Oceania.” According to the research, the United States, Russia, France, China, and Germany accounted for more than three-quarters of global exports.

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