ASEAN defence industry in focus as defence ministers convene in Bangkok

Today, defence ministers and senior military officers from 10 ASEAN states meet in Bangkok for the 13th ASEAN Defence Ministers’

asean defence ministers bangkok

Photo: Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

Today, defence ministers and senior military officers from 10 ASEAN states meet in Bangkok for the 13th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) to discuss how the intergovernmental organisation can promote collective peace, security and stability.

One likely topic of discussion is how to collectively develop the defence industries and capabilities of ASEAN states. Many member states are reliant on weapons exports from the US and China due to the lack of an established defence trade within ASEAN states. Furthermore, defence asymmetries among member states will be addressed as some of the nations with less developed militaries, such as Cambodia, have called for an increase in weapons capabilities and joint military training procedures.

Maritime security presents ASEAN states with a complex challenge. Island building in the South China Sea and other bodies of water has complicated sea lines of communication and damaged trade patterns enjoyed by many of the participating states, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. There is a clear divide among ASEAN states, with some, such as Vietnam, beginning to bet on the US, and others, like Laos, hedging with China.

If ASEAN states can successfully create a plan to bolster their own militaries and rely less on the two hegemons, then they might relieve some pressure from the tides of the trade war.

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