Melbourne, July 4 : An independent study released this week has claimed that tensions between the US and China could reach a breaking point and result in Australia being drawn into a conflict for all the wrong reasons.
This latest strategic insight from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), according to news.com.au, also paints a disturbing picture of regional arms build-up led by China and India.
"Were great power relations in the Asia Pacific to deteriorate, there would be the potential for our alliance with the US to embroil us in periods of tension or even conflict," the report said.
While it did not define it as an "arms race" the report, written by senior analyst Andrew Davies, showed that total regional military might, not including Russia and the US, amounted to more than eight million troops, 24,275 tanks, 6486 aircraft, 356 warships and 195 submarines.
China was the dominant player with 2.1 million troops, 7600 tanks, 2550 combat planes, 75 warships and 62 submarines.
Its defense spending had risen four-fold during the past decade while India, second with 1.3 million troops, 4500 tanks and 48 warships, had doubled its defence budget.
The next biggest armies were fielded by North Korea with 1.1 million troops and 3000 tanks and Pakistan - 640,000 soldiers and 2400 tanks.
There were almost two million troops in South-East Asia and if the U.S. and Russia were added the total figure jumped to more than 10.5 million.
Australia was by far the smallest, with just 54,000 troops, 138 combat planes, 12 warships and six submarines (three operational) although it remained the biggest defence spender in the South-East Asian region.
The Government will release a defence White Paper early next year. Its central theme will be dealing with the rise of China.