Asia: As China swells into a military superpower, India, Vietnam and Singapore are spending more on defense. Japan is leaning to do the same.
Now Australia’s deal with the U.S. and Britain to develop long-range nuclear-powered submarines has catapulted the military contest with Beijing in Asia into a tense new phase.
The deal could accelerate an Asian arms buildup long before the submarines enter service — probably 10 years from now. China, which responded with anger to the news, may step up its military modernization. Other big spenders like India and Vietnam could accelerate their own weapons plans as well.
Countries trying to stay in the middle, like Indonesia, Malaysia and others, face a more volatile region and growing pressure to choose between Washington and Beijing.
Quotable: “The worry is that this will spark an untimely arms race, which the region does not need now, nor in the future,” said Dino Patti Djalal, a former Indonesian ambassador to the U.S.