Magazine article DISAM Journal

Southeast Asia Arms Purchases Fuel Fears of Clashes

Magazine article DISAM Journal

Southeast Asia Arms Purchases Fuel Fears of Clashes

Article excerpt

[The following article originally appeared in the Financial Times (Asia), March 15, 2010.]

Military analysts are warning that China's increased regional power has caused its southeast Asian neighbors to step up their own defense purchases, raising the prospect that territorial disputes in the South China Sea could turn violent. Siemon Wezeman, a Senior Fellow at the Arms Transfers Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), said that several southeast Asian countries had "dramatically" stepped up their purchases of submarines, fighter aircraft, and long-range missiles in recent years.

  While southeast Asian governments ... still don't openly voice
  concerns over China, they think about it; and they are making a
  statement with what they are buying, he said. Fifteen years ago,
  there were the same conflicting claims in the South China Sea; but
  the countries didn't have the means to enforce their claims. Now,
  the moment somebody hits oil there, things might look very
  dangerous.

Many of southeast Asia's militaries are trying to catch up on purchases they deferred several years earlier as their countries were reeling from the Asian financial crisis. They are driven by a mix of domestic, subregional, and larger strategic considerations; and most governments have yet directly to name China as a concern. However, the Chinese navy has recently built a submarine base on Hainan Island, at the top of the disputed waters of the South China Sea where it has a territorial dispute with the surrounding littoral states--Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam--over the potentially resource-rich Spratly and Paracel archipelagos. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.