A new arms race? The political economy of maritime military modernization in the Asia-Pacific


  • Richard A. Bitzinger




Navies, military modernization, defense spending, arms suppliers, arms races, arms dynamic, security dilemma


During the 2000s, navies in the Asia-Pacific region have experienced a significant, if not unprecedented, bout of naval expansion. This buildup has been quantitative, but more importantly, qualitative as well, and in many cases goes beyond mere modernization. It has been driven by both rising regional defense spending and by an increasingly competitive arms business, which is resulting in the export of some of the most advanced types of weaponry. Regional military modernization activities are intended to increase national deterrent and defensive capabilities, but the process of mutual, reciprocated arming with increasingly advanced conventional weapons can also lead to costly arms competitions, perhaps draining resources from other, more pressing social needs. It also contains the kernel of a classic security dilemma, whereby such arming can actually undermine that very security it was intended to improve.


Bailey J. 1992. “Habibie’s Grand Design.” Flight International. 19 February 1992, pp. 51-52.

Busan, B. and E. Herring. 1998. The Arms Dynamic in World Politics. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

[China] Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. 2006. “China’s National Defense in 2006. Chapter IX: Defense Expenditure.”

Cohen M. 2000. “New Flight Plan.” Far Eastern Economic Review. 2 March 2000, p. 45.

Grimmett, R. 2008. “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2000-2007.” Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service.

[India-Defense]. 2008. “10 Per cent Hike in Indian Defense Budget for 2008-09.” India-Defence. 2 March 2008. http://www.india-defence.com/reports-3759 [accessed 4 April 2008].

International Institute for Strategic Studies. 2009. The Military Balance 2009. London: Routledge.

Karnoil R. 2004. “Country Briefing: Indonesia - Interior Designs.” Jane’s Defence Weekly. 21 March 2004.

Raghuvanshi, V. 2008. “India Launches First Defense Investment Fund.” Defense News. 7 July 2008.

[Reuters]. 2007. “Taiwan Plans Big Increase in Defense Spending.” International Herald Tribune. 23 August 2007.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 2009. “The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database.” http://milexdata.sipri.org [accessed 10 February 2009].

Vatanka A. and R. Weitz. 2006. “Russian Roulette — Moscow Seeks Influence Through Arms Exports.” Jane’s Intelligence Review. 6 December 2006.




How to Cite

Bitzinger, R. A. (2009). A new arms race? The political economy of maritime military modernization in the Asia-Pacific. The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.15355/epsj.4.2.32




Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.