The arms race in contemporary East Asia

Andrew T. H. Tan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The East Asian states, namely, China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan and Taiwan, have been increasing their defence spending and capabilities as well as acquiring new capabilities. There also appears to be an action–reaction dynamic involved, where states have attempted to acquire similar weapons systems to counter other referent states in the region. The rapid build-up of arms and the presence of an interactive element are the essence of arms racing behaviour. In the context of heightened regional tensions between China on the one hand, and the United States and various regional states on the other, there are heightened risks from the security dilemma, including misperceptions and conflict spirals that could lead to war. The danger is accentuated by the absence of effective regional institutions, norms and regimes that could ameliorate interstate tensions and conflicts. The solution to the arms race in East Asia might lie with the experience of Europe during the Cold War, where confidence and security-building measures helped to ease tensions and contain the Cold War arms race. It is therefore imperative that East Asia begins the process of confidence-building which can ease tensions and lead to greater stability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge handbook of the global history of warfare
EditorsKaushik Roy, Michael W. Charney
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429437915, 9780429795473
ISBN (Print)9781138345386, 9781032676296
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Arms Race
  • China-US relations
  • East Asia
  • Military Modernization


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