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Asia-Pac looking at 'huge peace-time arms build-up'
Publication Date : 26-03-2014
India's top security official has warned that the Asia-Pacific region is looking at "one of the biggest peace-time arms build-ups in history" with East Asia "no longer harmonious".
Shivshankar Menon said the regional arms build-up was high in terms of "quality and quantity", even as he noted that many parts of Asia from the east to the west were in conflict.
"West Asia is in turmoil... In 2013, over 75,000 people died of armed conflict or terrorism in the Greater Middle East from Morocco to Pakistan. That is 78 per cent of all conflict. East Asia is no longer harmonious. Jihadi terrorism has dispersed and globalised," he said on the second day of the annual meeting of The Growth Net, a convention organised by strategic advisory firm Smadja and Smadja and the independent non-profit Ananta Centre.
Asia's emerging powers have been boosting their military forces in tandem with their economic growth.
China, which has been building up its military aggressively, increased its defence budget to US$132 billion this year, while Japan last year raised its defence budget for the first time in 11 years, in a move widely seen to be because of China.
Japan is expected to spend 23.97 trillion yen (US$234 billion) over the next five years to buy drones, submarines and fighter jets amid escalating tensions over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.
Meanwhile, India too has been steadily buying weapons, with Swedish think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute noting that it has replaced China as the biggest arms buyer, with large purchases such as aircraft and P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
Menon, who was speaking on "Dealing with the changes in the global security", also touched on the changing dynamics of security, saying that cyber threats have emerged as a big challenge for India and other countries.
"Non-traditional security threats, such as cyber issues, terrorism and extremism, and internal security are one of India's top challenges. Internal security also includes gender and personal security issues. Also, newer technologies have brought on newer risks for countries," he said.
Nearly 100 speakers from 25 countries are taking part in The Growth Net 2014, where the focus is on reviving growth. Issues raised at the meeting range from the global security environment, energy and water challenges to education and foreign investment opportunities.