Interactive: Comparing Asian Powers to the U.S.
Whether it’s the planning and execution of massive infrastructure projects like One Belt, One Road, or the dramatic increase in wealth occurring in the region, it’s clear that the economic boom in the East is rapidly expanding Asia’s influence on the world stage.
More importantly, this growing economic might is also translating to geopolitical influence – and over time, it could have a paradigm-shifting impact on the balance of power in the world.
How to Compare Asian Powers
Today’s interactive infographic on the Asia Power Index comes to us from the Lowy Institute, and it introduces a methodology to compare Asian powers using macro categories such as economic resources, military capabilities, cultural influence, diplomatic influence, and defense networks.
Each category is informed by a number of indicators – and there are 114 metrics in total. They include quantifiable numbers from public sources on things like military expenditures, global exports, global investment outflows, number of supercomputers, satellites launched, etc.
Interestingly, all of the data used to score powers in Asia is also contrasted to the United States, which helps give an idea of relative significance.
The Most Powerful Nations
We recommend exploring the interactive piece to get the most out of the data – but here are some meaningful spoilers to start with:
Taking all 114 metrics into consideration puts the U.S. into the #1 spot with a score of 85.0. Right behind are China (75.5), Japan (42.1), India (41.5), Russia (33.3), and then Australia (32.5). The U.S. leads in five categories, but falls behind China in three: Future Trends, Diplomatic Influence, and Economic Relationships.
In this category, the U.S. and China are neck-and-neck with scores of 91.7 and 91.3 respectively. The next closest Asian powers are well-behind: Japan (32.9), India (26.8), Russia (17.0) and South Korea (17.0).
As expected, the U.S. ranks #1 with 94.6. On the Asian side, we have China (69.9), Russia (61.4), India (48.9), and North Korea (35.8).
This category takes into account future projections on economic growth, military expenditures, and working age population size. Not surprisingly, China ranks #1 here at 83.0. Behind it is the United States (60.0), and India (55.6). Other Asian powers are a ways further down the list, with Indonesia (11.7) and Russia (11.4) being the only other countries with double-digit scores.
For more, we recommend checking out the full-width interactive version provided by the Lowy Institute here.
Ranked: Share of Global Arms Exports in 2022
The U.S. is the biggest weapons exporter in the world, but which other countries take up a significant share of global arms exports in 2022? And how has that share changed over time?
Ranked: Share of Global Arms Exports 2018–2022
In 2022, global military budgets hit $2.2 trillion, an eighth consecutive year of increase.
Part of those budgets were used for the procurement of arms, but which countries are major weapons suppliers, and how do they influence the global arms trade?
We chart out the top 10 countries with the biggest share of global arms exports using data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Which Country Exports the Most Weapons?
The U.S. is the biggest weapons exporter, accounting for 40% of the total volume of international arms transfers between 2018–2022. Nearly one-fifth of these exports headed to Saudi Arabia, and other significant amounts went to Japan (8.6%) and Australia (8.4%).
Below we rank the biggest weapons exporters by share of total volume traded in 2018–2022, as well as their growth or decline from trends recorded in 2013–2017.
|Rank||Country||% share of global arms exports|
|% change between
2013-17 & 2018-22
|9||🇰🇷 South Korea||2%||+74%|
|N/A||🌐 Rest of World||9%||N/A|
Russia (16%) and France (11%) rank close together, followed by China (5%) and Germany (4%) to round out the top five major arms exporters.
However France’s export volumes grown considerably (+44%) from the previous five-year period, thanks to big sales to India, which included 62 combat aircraft and four submarines, one-third of all French weapons trade. This has resulted in France leapfrogging the U.S. as India’s second-largest weapons supplier after Russia.
On the other hand, Russia’s exports by volume has decreased (-31%) even before sanctions kicked in after the invasion of Ukraine. Its biggest trade partners, India and China, have prioritized developing their own weapons industries.
South Korea’s Surging Weapons Exports
Another country whose arms sales are skyrocketing is South Korea, which ranks 9th in the overall share of global arms exports, but has seen a 74% increase in its export volumes. Key recipients include the Philippines, India, and Thailand.
South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol has pledged to grow his country into the world’s fourth largest arms exporter by 2027.
Interestingly, South Korea is one of three countries which is both a top-10 arms exporter and importer (along with China and the U.S.) as it has many takers for domestically produced military equipment, while simultaneously being reliant on American-produced long-range missiles and advanced combat aircraft.
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