This week’s announcement that Australia has awarded the biggest arms contract in its history ($40 bn) to France provides further fuel to the arms race in Asia. Already last year Asia overtook Europe in terms of defence spending with the total reaching $340bn according to IISS figures. This year the trend is continuing with overall defence expenditure likely to increase by a further 6%. Asian countries are shopping not only for submarines but new generation fighter aircraft, amphibious landing craft and other advanced weaponry. European defence contractors are now looking to Asia to boost falling sales at home.
The reasons for the rise in defence spending include the increasing tensions in the East and South China seas and the unpredictable nature of the regime in North Korea. China accounts for about 40% of the total spending and has ambitious plans to modernise its armed forces and increase its power projection capabilities.
By Bonnie S. Glaser
On May 20, Tsai Ing-wen from the Democratic People’s Progressive Party (DPP) will be inaugurated president in Taiwan.
HR/VP Mogherini pays her first visit to Indonesia on 8-9 April before heading for consultations in Japan. Her two-day visit to Jakarata will help prepare the visit of President Jokowi to Brussels on 21 April.
On 19 April, the EU-Asia Centre held a panel discussion on the topic of "How to Deal with North Korea?"
EU-ASIA Centre is a think tank dedicated to promoting closer relations between the EU and Asia.