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Despite economic slowdown: Asia forking out on defence

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File photo of Admiral Gorshkov. Indian Navy to receive Admiral Gorshkov within two years

SINGAPORE (PTI): Increased military spending by India and China is forcing other Asia-Pacific countries to modernise their armed forces despite the severe impact of the global financial crisis, experts say.

Data from defence research firm Jane's Information Group estimates total military spending in the region rising year-on-year -- from about USD 220 billion in 2008 to USD 239 billion this year and higher still in 2010.

Those figures include external defence and homeland security and cover a region stretching from Central Asia to Australia.

"India and China are forcing the countries to think very hard strategically about their defence capabilities," said Jon Grevatt, a regional defence specialist with Jane's.

He said that although money is tight across the region, "the pressure of not spending on defence is very high due to the considerable military influence that China and India are assuming in this part of the world." Even countries not bordering China and India are upgrading their arsenals.

Singapore, despite suffering its worst-ever economic slowdown, will increase its defence spending by an annual 6.0 percent to USD 7.53 billion in the new fiscal year starting April, the government says.

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