A SALUTATION TO ARMS: ASIA'S MILITARY BUILDUP, ITS REASONS, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
By Felix K. Chang, Senior Fellow Foreign Policy Research Institute http://www.fpri.org/articles/2013/09/salutation-arms-asias-military-buildup-its-reasons-and-its-implications
China has drastically reduced the size of its Maoist conscript army in favor of building modern armed forces with emphasis on air, rocket, and naval capabilities. Mr. Chang states one trigger for Beijing's new military policies was its failure to inhibit the American intervention as China attempted to intimidate Taiwan with the threat of rocket attacks in 1995-96. Although China's new weaponry still depends in part on Russian and Ukrainian technology, its weapons and forces are greatly improved, and its defense budget has become impressively large.
This, of course, worries all of China's neighbors. For a long stretch their military budgets stalled. Mr. Chang notes how this has changed. India has put more divisions onto its mountain border with China. Japan has strengthened its Self Defense Forces, an example being new "helicopter destroyers" that look oddly like amphibious assault ships. The Philippines are shopping for missile frigates. Thailand has even built an aircraft carrier of its own, though it largely sits in port.
Mr. Chang says there are assorted...