The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a UK think tank, released on Feb. 14 “The Military Balance 2017.” The publication is an annual assessment of global military capabilities. According to the 2017 edition, total defense spending for the entire Asia region in 2016 was about $367.7 billion (about 41.7 trillion yen), up by 5.3% compared with the previous year. The increase is due mostly to heightened tensions among nations over territorial disputes involving the South China Sea and other areas. China accounts for the largest share of total spending (39.4%).
In the breakdown of shares of total military spending, China is followed by India (13.9%), Japan (12.9%), South Korea (9.2%), and Australia (6.6%). North Korea is not included for insufficient data.
China’s actual military spending will probably become higher, as its spending reported in “The Military Balance 2017″ was calculated on the basis of the national defense budget announced by Beijing and does not include its costs for weapons procurement.
“The Military Balance 2017″ pointed out that China has repeatedly deployed fishing boats near the disputed Senkaku Islands and had its military aircraft approach Japan’s airspace. It explained that these actions have caused Japan to become increasingly wary of the possibility of a “hybrid war,” a combination of military operations and nonmilitary maneuvers aimed at undermining Japan’s ability to administer the islands. “The Military Balance 2017″ also presented the view that increasing its military preeminence over the South China Sea has become a priority in China’s military strategy.