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The Great Asian Arms Buildup

China’s Military Expansion, South China Sea to Dominate Shangri-La Dialogue

By David Tweed David Tweed and Mira Rojanasakul Mira Rojanasakul
May 31, 2016

The 15th Shangri-La Dialogue kicks off in Singapore on June 3, with a keynote speech by Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. The region’s most prestigious defense meeting gathers military leaders from around the globe to discuss security and defense policy.

This year talks are likely to be dominated again by discussions of the South China Sea disputes ahead of an arbitration ruling on China’s claims to the waters expected mid-year. Combating terrorism and cyber-warfare will also be on the agenda.

U.S. and China Muscle Up

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will lead the U.S. delegation for the second year running. Two years ago his predecessor Chuck Hagel traded barbs with a Chinese general over China’s territorial claims.

Military Spending by Year

United States

China

$

1988

2015

Military Spending by Year

United States

China

$

1988

2015

Military Spending by Year

United States

China

$

1988

2015

Military Spending by Year

United States

China

$

1988

2015

China Spooks Asia

China's growing military might is a cause of concern for countries in the region, particularly its navy, now the biggest in the region. The East China Sea and South China Sea fleets are responsible for naval security around Taiwan and the South China Sea. The North Sea fleet protects Beijing and the northern coast.

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OpenType - PS 3724032671 TiemposText-Regular 3724032671 MyriadPro-Regular North Sea Fleet East Sea Fleet South Sea Fleet Aircraft carrier ●●●● Ballistic missile subs ●●● ●● Nuclear attack subs ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● Diesel attack subs ●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●● Destroyers ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● Frigates ●● ●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●● ●●●●●●●● Corvettes ●●● Amphibious docks ●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● Tank landing ships ●●●● ●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●● Med. landing ships ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● Missile patrol craft ●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●●●●● South China Sea Qingdao Ningbo Zhanjiang China has the largest navy in Asia. The East China Sea and South China Sea fleets are responsible for naval security around Taiwan and the South China Sea. The North Sea fleet protects Beijing and the northern coast. The PLA Navy North SeaHeadquarters East SeaHeadquarters South SeaHeadquarters North SeaHeadquarters East SeaHeadquarters South SeaHeadquarters The fleet is soon to be augmented by a Zumwalt-class destroyer, of which Admiral Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, once said: “If Batman had a ship, this’d be it.”