China on Tuesday warned about the dangers of a possible regional arms race in Asia following the release of a report that finds the Asia-Pacific has overtaken Europe as the world's largest weapons importer.
A study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute this week found that the region accounted for 44 percent of the world's conventional arms imports, in the past five years. It said all five top weapons-importing countries were from the Asia region.
An editorial in the official Global Times newspaper denied China's rise was the cause for the regional arms buildup. It called on the United States to stop “supporting other countries' strategic stances against China” and said both Washington and Beijing should have “serious communication” about one another's security views in the region.
China has criticized the Obama administration's recently announced military “re-balance” toward Asia. Washington has denied the move is meant to contain the rising influence of China, which has become increasingly assertive about its disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The SIPRI report found that China, formerly the world's top arms importer, has now dropped to fourth place, largely because of its increased weapons producing capability. It also found that Chinese arms exporters have rapidly grown in recent years.
The study found that India is now the world's top arms importer, accounting for 10 percent of the global share. That was followed by South Korea, China, Pakistan and Singapore.
Global arms exports increased by 24 percent between 2007 and 2011, compared with the previous five-year period.