Since 2000, military spending has skyrocketed in Southeast Asia. Arms transfers too, with regional countries acquiring state-of-the-art submarines and fighter aircrafts. Is the region therefore home to an arms race, fuelled by China’s rise and by the US rebalancing?
Considering intra-regional transformations and national contexts, these strategic and military evolutions appear as not only complex, but also very different one from another, in their scope and drivers. More than geopolitics, it may be History that sheds most light on the rationales behind the current military dynamics in Southeast Asia, which convincingly express how regional elites perceive and defend their interests in the domestic field as well as in the international arena.