One of the most interesting security issues in Asia over the next decade is going to be maritime security. As our defence correspondent Toshi Yoshihara has written, US analysts seriously underestimated the development of China’s Navy over the past decade. Meanwhile, Japan–which is massively dependent on routes through the Gulf of Aden and Malacca Strait for its imports–has been investing significant sums in beefing up its coast guard and Maritime Self-Defense Forces (MSDF), despite being constitutionally barred from possessing an offensive military.
And India, for its part, has sought closer maritime ties with Japan over concerns about what it sees as China’s efforts to encircle it with a ‘string of pearls’ strategy. Earlier this year, the MSDF was invited to join the US and Indian navies for the annual MALABAR naval exercise. In addition, as part of the Japan-India Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation signed last October by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, the two countries have also pledged greater cooperation between their coast guards.
And these three are by no means the only ones, according to a Straits Times piece out today that outlines overall regional spending on navies that could top $640 billion over the next 20 years:
“We expect [the Asia-Pacific naval market] to move past NATO countries to become the second largest source of future naval spending after the United States,” AMI vice-president Bob Nugent affirmed in an e-mail message.
‘Other analysts are equally sanguine. “Frost & Sullivan estimates that Asia will account for nearly one-third of global military spending (over the next decade), up from about a quarter in 2007. Jane’s DS Forecast estimates that over the next 10 years, 80 – perhaps 100 – new submarines could be procured by Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and, potentially, Taiwan,” said Eric Lassalle, the Singapore-based managing director of the naval defence company DCNS Far East.’