South Korea and Japan are also among the top 15 spenders. Russia drops one place, following cuts due to financial woes and sanctions. Tensions between China and its neighbours are one of the reasons for the rise. Saudi Arabia is the biggest spender in the Middle East. Together, seven NATO members represent 48 per cent (US$ 827 billion) of all global military spending.
Stockholm (AsiaNews) – The balance of military spending is "clearly shifting" towards Asia and the Middle East, this according to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). One of the main reasons for this eastward shit is the increased military budgets of China, India and Saudi Arabia.
World military expenditure is estimated to have reached ,739 billion in 2017, the highest level since the end of the Cold War.
The five leading spenders are the United States (US$ 610 billion), China (est US$ 228 billion), Saudi Arabia (est US$ 69.4), Russia (US$ 66.3) and India (US$ 63.9). Three of the next ten are in Asia: Japan in eighth place (US$ 45.5), South Korea in tenth (US$ 39.2) and Turkey in fifteenth (US$ 18.2).
“Tensions between China and many of its neighbours continue to drive the growth in military spending in Asia,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher for SIPRI.
Military spending in Asia and Oceania reached 7 billion in 2017, or 27 per cent of global military expenditure. China, which increased its military spending by 5.6 per cent, accounted for 48 per cent of the regional total.
In 2017, India overtook France for the first time, increasing its budget by 5.5 per cent and is in fifth place.
"The Indian Government plans to expand, modernize and enhance the operational capability of its armed forces motivated, at least partially, by tensions with China and Pakistan,” the report says.
However, the rise in Indian defence spending mostly goes toward salaries and pensions for roughly 1.4 million serving personnel and more than 2 million veterans.
By contrast, Russia saw its military spending decline for the first time in 20 years, dropping the country from third to fourth position. The reason for this is its economic crisis, in particular the sanctions imposed by the West in 2014 over Ukraine.
For the sixth time in a row, Japanese military spending is up due to “Perceived threats from China and North Korea”. The latter “remain the most important factors in Japan’s security strategy”. In August last year, Tokyo announced plans to further increase military spending in 2018.
SIPRI could not estimate total military spending in the Middle East in 2017 because of a lack of accurate data for Qatar, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.
After two years of decline after a peak in 2015, military expenditure for countries in the Middle East for which data is available also grew in 2017, by 6.2 per cent, with Saudi Arabia as the largest spender in the region and the third in the world.
Finally, the report notes that seven of the 15 largest spenders are NATO members: United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada and Turkey. Together, these seven accounted for 48 per cent (US$ 827 billion) of global military expenditure.