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(Opinion) Time for Europe to Get Strategic in Its Arms Exports to Asia

2014-12-22 08:36:42       source:The Diplomat

By Thomas Paulsen and Janka Oertel

December 21, 2014

"Asia, the world's most dynamic economic region, is facing heightened security-related tensions. China is expressing increasing confidence in its territorial disputes and is gradually expanding its influence in the South and East China Sea. Japan is attempting to free itself from the confines of its former security policy and significantly expand the scope and geographic reach of its armed forces. Throughout Asia, nations that can afford to do so are investing heavily in their military capabilities. Over the last decade, China has tripled its military spending; Indonesia has doubled its defense budget; and India has become the world's largest importer of arms. In short, the threat of an arms race looms large over the region. The situation is sustained by the financial capabilities the region amassed through years of continued economic growth. The risk of military conflict in Asia is rising, whether unintended or because a government in the region believes a particular red line has been crossed.

The sheer size of the Asian economies and the potential disruption to vital trade routes and supply chains means that a war in Asia would be devastating for the global economy. Although Europe would be severely affected by conflict in the region, neither the EU nor individual European countries currently play a relevant role in Asian security policy. Apparently, the skirmishes taking place over Far Eastern rocks and reefs are too distant to be of any particular bearing. Instead, the EU remains focused on the pressing problems in its immediate neighborhood. Consequently, the current climate might imply that there is no role for Europe in Asian security policy. There is a consensus within the European political class that a European military presence in Asia or intervention in the region's security policy remains out of the question."

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