Influence by default: Europe’s impact on military security in East Asia

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Series Details May 2017
Publication Date May 2017
ISBN 978-1-911544-14-2
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The much-discussed notion of an ‘Asian arms race’ is an exaggeration. Instead, since no country can match Chinese military expenditure, several Asian states are acquiring asymmetric capabilities to try to prevent an excessive unbalance with China.

Through arms exports, transfers of technology, and arms and dual-use export controls, Europe’s impact on Asian armaments trends and security is larger than is usually acknowledged.

European states and firms are providing arms to several states as they seek to avoid such excessive unbalance with China. But this action is not guided by clear policy and is often driven by commercial interests and political constraints.

The EU arms embargo on China has not prevented the Chinese arms industry from making rapid progress: it is now a major export competitor. Europe is contributing to this progress through transfers of dual-use items and intangible technology transfers.

A more coherent approach will ensure Europe’s impact on Asia’s military balance is not destabilising and that export control gaps are closed.

The countries covered by this report include: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

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