Australia concerned about Asian arms race

Feb. 13, 2014 at 2:44 AM

SYDNEY, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Australia's greatest future threat is China, a just released Australian Strategic Policy Institute report concluded.

A major factor driving massive arms purchases in Asia is territorial differences, particularly disagreements over conflicted islet archipelagoes that were once "no-go" zones, both diplomatically and developmentally, but now are seen as potentially valuable assets with rich fishing and hydrocarbon reserves, News.com.au website reported on Thursday.

China unsettled its neighbors in November by declaring an "air defense zone" in the East China Sea, setting off tensions with Japan, South Korea and the United States. China is reported to be considering a similar "air defense zone" in the waters surrounding the Paracel and Spratly island chains, whose ownership China disputes with the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Australia's military buildup to counter rising regional tensions includes two new LHDs (landing, helicopter, dock ships) HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra, due to enter service within the next few years, being built as a collaboration between Navantia and BAE Systems -- Maritime.

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