Chart: The Most Influential Countries in Asia
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword.
However, what they often fail to mention is that the pen is even mightier when it comes with massive amounts of leverage, influence, and power backing it up on every stroke.
How to Win Friends and Influence Countries
Every country is interested in gaining influence, and earlier this week we showed you an interactive infographic from the Lowy Institute that compared the strength of Asian powers to the United States.
Today’s chart uses the same data set, and it not only highlights the most influential countries in the Asian arena, but it also plots resources (i.e. the potential for power) of countries against their actual level of influence. The Lowy Institute calls this the “Power Gap” and it is intended to show whether a country is overperforming or underperforming in terms of fulfilling its expected level of influence on the region.
Here are descriptions of the two measures which are used for the Power Gap:
Resources: A score based on economic resources, military capability, resilience, and future trends, this measurement provides an assessment of a country’s material capabilities and robustness, which are requisite factors in the exercise of power.
Influence: A score based on diplomatic influence, economic relationships, defense networks, and cultural influence, this measurement is used to assess a country’s level of influence on other countries in the Asian arena.
Next, we’ll look at the actual numbers to see what we can learn.
Here’s how countries perform – as a reminder, this is based on the Asia Power Index, which is made up of countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States.
|Rank||Country||Overall Power||Expected Power||Power Gap|
In terms of absolute power, the U.S. and China top the list. Interestingly, Russia is only 5th place overall.
The “Power Gap” partially seems to explain this, as Russia appears to have the biggest gap between its expected power and its actual power. The country has the second worst power gap at -6.4.
Looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, it appears Japan, Singapore, and Australia are all punching above their weight in terms of influence. Meanwhile, Malaysia has the 5th best power gap, which may be unexpected for many.
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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