Global military spending, driven in part by Chinese naval expansion, reached record levels in 2020 despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic contraction, a British think-tank said on Thursday.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said military spending reached $1.8 trillion last year — a 3.9% increase in real terms over figures for 2019. The U.S. remained the world’s largest defence spender in 2020, IISS said, accounting for 40% of $738 billion globally.
China, by comparison, accounted for 10.6 percent or $193.3 billion.
Beijing’s military spending was the driving force behind growth in Asia’s overall defence expenditure, and accounted for 25% of the continent’s spending in 2020.
The IISS also highlighted Chinese military expansion and the significant growth of its naval fleet, a response driven in part by to Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea.