Our Bureau
08:48 AM, February 8, 2015

Asia is spending more than NATO in absolute terms and the rate of increase has even surpassed Europe.

Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen commented during a speech at the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany on Saturday.

In his address, Dr Ng  justified Asia's increased defence spending as "playing catch-up" because of rising economies, but voiced concern over Asia's lack of well-developed security architecture. "It is well known that leaders of countries in Northeast Asia do not talk to each other much," Dr Ng said.

"Few platforms exist, whether it is between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK), whether it is between China and Japan, whether it is Japan and the ROK and between China and Taiwan."

Dr Ng cited the lack of a strong collective will in Asia not to engage in conflicts unlike Europe, which created formal structures and alliances in the wake of the two world wars.

"You'll remember at last year's MSC, Mr Kissinger said that Asia reminded him of Europe, 19th century Europe, at risk of a conflagration," Dr Ng reminded the audience.

However, the rise of prosperity in Asia is a reason for optimism, Dr Ng said, as instability in the region would not benefit any country.

"There are multiple stakeholders in the AsiaPacific region who are committed to be present," Dr Ng said of US, India, Australia and the EU's interest in Asia as the second reason for optimism.

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