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

Richard A. Bitzinger


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.


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

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15355/epsj.4.2.32


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