Global spending on defense rose by four percent in 2019, the largest growth in 10 years, led by big increases in the US and China, according to a study published on Friday. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said the rise was fueled by growing rivalries between big powers, new military technologies and rumbling conflicts, AFP reports.
Beijing’s military modernization program is alarming Washington and helping drive US defense spending, the IISS said. Its annual ‘Military Balance’ report said the increase alone in US spending from 2018 to 2019 – $53.4 billion – was almost as big as Britain’s entire defense budget.
Both the US and China increased spending by 6.6 percent, the report said, to $684.6 billion and $181.1 billion respectively.
European NATO members have been seeking to increase spending to placate President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly accused them of freeloading on the US. Trump has railed at European allies, particularly Germany, for not living up to a 2014 NATO pledge to spend two percent of GDP on defense.