Last week it was China that captured the headlines and this week, the attention is all on India as it is on the verge to announce it’s annual budget. Eleven days ago, the authorities in Beijing announced an 11.2% increase in it’s military budget, which clearly underscored the China’s continuing emergence as a global power.
Officials in New Delhi are soon expected to announce India’s military budget for the year 2012-13. Last year, despite austerity measures in some areas, defence spending was increased by 11.6% as India continued to modernise and expand it’s military capabilities. The West is expecting another double-digit increase in the coming days and it will highlight the growing arms race that has gripped Asia as China and India compete both with each other and the US, for local and regional influence.
Arms spending by Asian nations will this year for the first time overtake that of European countries, where economic woes have forced constriction.
Apart from India and China, countries like Australia,Indonesia,Japan,Malaysia,Singapore,South Korea,Thailand and Vietnam are all spending heavily.
“There are three reasons for this,” said Rahul Roy-Chaudhary, of the IISS. “First, Asian economies are rising; second, there is a dynamic procurement process taking place in South-east Asia, south Asia and east Asia, and third, there is an economic crisis in Europe.”
The are various reasons behind individual countries military spending and priorities may differ from country to country.China watched US spending, India and Japan watched China’s spending and Pakistan watched India’s military expansion.
India should be more than seriously concerned about China’s hiked defence expenditures considering that ‘The China Threat’ to India is more real than to other nations, simply because China perceives that India is its sizeable and comparable strategic and military Asian rival and could impede China’s rise and emergence as the undisputed military power in Asia. Strategically, it is ironic that despite the credibility and potency of ‘The China Threat’, India’s political leadership and apex national security establishment traditionally disconnected from its Armed Forces who manage ‘The China Threat’, continue to de-emphasize this threat and get tricked into China’s protestations that China’s rise is a ‘peaceful rise’.
China is also active on dry land, spending more money in Tibet, not only on keeping the restive population there under control, but also on deploying more troops on the plateau at Tawang, near Arunachal Pradesh.China has a long-running border dispute with India over this area. The Chinese are deploying troops and aircraft and other equipment to the Himalayan area to see how they withstand the winter. In this arena, one that is particularly sensitive to India because it lost part of this territory to China during a 1962 war.New Delhi has responded with men and machines.
India has made more efforts to raise two mountain divisions, which you can say is a response to China.
China’s announcement earlier this month said that it’s military budget would be increased to $106bn (£68bn), from $95bn. Such an amount leaves it far behind theUS, which in 2013 will have a military spend of $525bn, but considerably ahead of regional rival India, which in 2012 allocated to $36bn to the military, around a third of it on salaries and benefits.
Many think China is probably spending even more but that it chooses not to reveal the true figure. Last year, the US suggested that Beijing’s true military budget might be 60 per cent higher, at around $160bn. Some analysts, believe China’s military spend could double in the next three years.
The strategic and political implications for the United States, China’s Asian neighbours and particularly India are serious, deep-rooted and long-range.