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Southeast Asia building up maritime defenses

Nations acquiring submarines, surveillance ships amid South China Sea disputes

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen waves from a submarine.   © Reuters

MANILA -- From Singapore to the Philippines, Southeast Asian nations are spending big on submarines and other vessels to ramp up their naval capabilities amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.

The five major Southeast Asian countries have all increased defense spending by double digits in the five years through 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Indonesia and Vietnam have both seen a more than 60% boost. Seven countries in the region ranked among the world's top 40 arms importers last year, accounting for over 9% of global imports.

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