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Here Comes The Asian Naval Arms Race


The President of the Philippines announced today that his country is embarking on an ambitious military upgrade to protect itself from “bullies”—namely, China.

“In thinly veiled comments referring to China, [President Beningo] Aquino yesterday vowed in a speech marking the navy’s 115th anniversary that the armed forces would be given the resources necessary to protect Philippine sovereignty,” reports the South China Morning Post.

The upgrade will be huge for the Philippines—$1.8 billion. “[B]y 2017,” Aquino vowed, “Manila would acquire two new frigates, two helicopters capable of anti-submarine warfare, three fast vessels for coastal patrols and eight amphibious assault vehicles.”

The Philippines is adjacent to the most hotly contested islets and shoals in the South China Sea (click map below), much of which are claimed by China. China’s bullying on territorial and other issues has pushed almost all neighboring countries into more nationalist, more antagonistic, more resistant stances, and many of them have formed closer relationships in order to counterbalance China’s rising power. So the Chinese have only themselves to blame for convincing neighbors to arm themselves to the teeth and to defend contested patches of territory by all means necessary.

The Philippines isn’t the first Asian country to push for an upgraded, stronger military, nor will it be the last.


[Image of Philippine Navy ship courtesy Getty]

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  • Anthony

    Not an Asian naval arms race, though Dokdo, Senkaku, Paracel, and Spratly Islands are all within waters aligned to South China Seas (as well as the Scarborough Shoal), but more a reflection on China’s uncertain path. China’s perceived assertiveness in South China Seas lends itself to much regional speculation – yet China’s trajectory as regional hegemon (militarily, economically, culturally, etc.) obviously will not be straight forward.

  • If there is a naval arms race China will win. I hate to think how many ships she could build if she really put her mind to it.

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