new arms raCe

Khaleej Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Global de­fence spend­ing saw its big­gest jump in a decade in 2019, driven by the US and China, a study said on Fri­day, as ri­val­ries and con­flicts stoke mil­i­tary in­vest­ment. The In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies (IISS) said the four per cent rise, com­pared to a year ear­lier, was fu­elled by com­pe­ti­tion be­tween ma­jor pow­ers, new mil­i­tary tech­nolo­gies and rum­bling war­fare from Ukraine to Libya.

Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary moderni­sa­tion pro­gramme — which in­cludes de­vel­op­ing new hard-to-de­tect hy­per­sonic mis­siles — is alarm­ing Washington and help­ing drive US de­fence spend­ing, the IISS said.

Its an­nual “Mil­i­tary Bal­ance” re­port said the in­crease alone in US spend­ing from 2018 to 2019 — $53.4 bil­lion — was al­most as big as Britain’s en­tire de­fence bud­get.

“Spend­ing rose as economies re­cov­ered from the ef­fects of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, but in­creases have also been driven by sharp­en­ing threat per­cep­tions,” IISS chief John Chip­man said, launch­ing the re­port at the Mu­nich Security Con­fer­ence.

Both the US and China in­creased spend­ing by 6.6 per cent, the re­port said, to $684.6 bil­lion and $181.1 bil­lion re­spec­tively.

Europe — driven by on­go­ing con­cerns about Rus­sia — stepped up by 4.2 per cent, but this only brought the con­ti­nent’s de­fence spend­ing back to 2008 lev­els, be­fore the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis saw bud­gets slashed. Euro­pean Nato mem­bers have been seek­ing to in­crease spend­ing to pla­cate Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Trump has railed at Euro­pean al­lies for not liv­ing up to a 2014 Nato pledge to spend two per cent of GDP on de­fence.—


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