Alexander L. Vuving is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. His teaching, research, and consulting encompass topics such as Asian security, the rise of China, Chinese strategy, Vietnamese politics and foreign policy, Southeast Asia’s international relations, the South China Sea dispute, and the concept of soft power. He has published widely on these subjects and is a frequent media interviewee. He is a member of the editorial boards of the journals Asian Politics and Policy and Global Discourse. He received his PhD in political science from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, and has been a post-doctorate fellow and research associate at Harvard University. Views expressed are his own.
Philippine strategic culture has combined a reliance on the United States for external defense and a focus on internal threats, especially the Muslim and Communist insurgents on the southern island of Mindanao. This has resulted in a chronic neglect of the navy, air force, and coast guard.
Aware that their navy and air force are underequipped, Malaysia’s military planners have developed several plans to upgrade old platforms and acquire new ones in recent years. However, military spending has never been prioritized in the government budget, and most plans for force modernization have been repeatedly delayed or cancelled.
Since the South China Sea reemerged around 2008 as a hotspot of simmering conflict, conventional wisdom has held that tension in the area is driving an arms race among its littoral countries. A closer look at the facts and trends suggests otherwise.