Despite the damage coronavirus lockdowns did to the world’s economy, 2020 marked a record high in global military spending, according to a new report. As always, the US was in the lead, accounting for 40.3 percent of the world’s military expenditures at $738 billion.
The report, released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), says total military expenditures added up to $1.83 trillion in 2020, a 3.9 percent increase from 2019. "This came despite the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent contraction in global economic output," the IISS said.
Second behind the US was China, which accounted for 10.6 percent, or $193.3 billion. After the US and China, the top spenders were India, the UK, and Russia.
The report said military spending increased in the US by 6.3 percent in 2020. In China, it grew by 5.3 percent, slightly lower than the 5.9 percent growth seen in 2019.
Based on the research, Stars & Stripes had some interesting observations on China:
However, IISS and other research groups have questioned China’s budget transparency in recent years. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute pegged Chinese defense spending at $261 billion in 2019.
China’s maritime paramilitary forces are using facilities in the South China Sea as forward operating bases, the report noted. China has also built artificial islands in the sea over the last decade and constructed bases on natural features claimed by other nations in the region.
"Beijing seems intent on achieving primacy in its littoral areas," IISS said.
Meanwhile, China’s navy has maintained an “over-the-horizon” presence focused on extending its reach.
The top 15 military budgets in fiscal year 2020, via IISS
European NATO countries have increased military spending by 20 percent since 2014, according to the report. Although in 2020, Europe’s military spending only grew by 2 percent, compared with 4.1 the year prior.
But overall, IISS believes Europe could be where the most growth in defense spending is seen in the coming years.