Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

'Arms drive' in South East Asia

By Karishma Vaswani
BBC News, Jakarta

An Indonesian army commando mans a machinegun in Jakarta on 11 March 2010
The report says Indonesia has almost doubled its military spending

South East Asian nations are ramping up their military capacity in a move that could destabilise the region, a new report says.

The report comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

It says that arms imports by Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia leapt by 84%, 146% and 722% between 2005 and 2009, compared with the previous five years.

Analysts put this down to the regional arms race, the need to replace old weapons and the growing might of China.

There have long been concerns in this part of the world about how quickly China is ramping up its army and naval forces.

Just a decade ago, the Chinese government spent less than $10bn (£6.6bn) dollars on its weapons supplies. Today that figure is closer to $80bn.

So it is no surprise military analysts say that countries like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are also keen to show off their military strength.

But in comparison to China's might, their arms purchases are insignificant.

It is not just because of China, though, that South East Asian nations are adding to their armies.

According to analysts, these countries have always harboured a deep-seated suspicion of their neighbours - so when one sees another spending more money on defence, it will follow suit.

As economies in the region expand and there are more funds around, it is thought likely we will see ever more of this arms competition in South East Asia.

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