new arms raCe
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.—