'China not driving factor behind Southeast Asian nations arms buying binge'

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New Delhi, Aug 10 (ANI): China has denied reports that Southeast Asian nations are building up their militaries and edging closer strategically to the US as a hedge against China's rise

The latest data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows that weapon purchases in Southeast Asian region almost doubled from 2005 to 2009.

Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies, said China was not the driving factor behind the buying binge.

Terrorism threats at home, upgrading weapons and military competition in the region are the three main reasons for the notable increase in arms spending, the China Daily quoted Li, as saying.

"There are a number of anti-government terrorist organizations in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, and the countries need to improve their military capacities," Li added.

The report said Vietnam has agreed to pay 2.4 billion dollars for six Russian Kilo-class submarines and a dozen Su-30MKK jet fighters equipped for maritime warfare.

Australia is committed to buying or building nine more submarines and bolstering its air force with 100 US-built F-35s, the paper reports.

As well, Malaysia has paid more than one billion dollar for two diesel submarines from France, and Indonesia has recently announced it too will acquire new submarines.

The United States has been feeling cozier with China's neighbors.

Noticeable events include a joint military drill between Washington and Seoul in the Yellow Sea last month, Vietnamese officials boarding the USS carrier George Washington this week, as well as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 'enthusiasm' over the South China Sea, expressed during the ASEAN summit in Hanoi last month. (ANI)

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