Asia’s missile proliferation will fuel suspicions, trigger arms races, increase tensions and ultimately cause crises and even wars
- By Josh Smith / Reuters, SEOUL
Asia is sliding into a dangerous arms race as smaller nations that once stayed on the sidelines build arsenals of advanced long-range missiles, following in the footsteps of powerhouses China and the US, analysts say.
China is mass producing its DF-26, a multipurpose weapon with a range of up to 4,000km — while the US is developing new weapons aimed at countering Beijing in the Pacific.
Other countries in the region are buying or developing their own new missiles, driven by security concerns over China and a desire to reduce their reliance on the US.
An Indigenous Defense Fighter fighter jet and Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missiles are seen last September at Makung Air Force Base in the offshore island of Penghu.
Before the decade is out, Asia will be bristling with conventional missiles that fly farther and faster, hit harder and are more sophisticated than ever before — a stark and dangerous change from recent years, analysts, diplomats and military officials say.
“The missile landscape is changing in Asia, and it’s changing fast,” said David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum.
Such weapons are increasingly affordable and accurate, and as some countries acquire them, their neighbors don’t want to be left behind, analysts said. Missiles provide strategic benefits such as deterring enemies and boosting leverage with allies, and can be a lucrative export.