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2013-2014 Northeast Asia Defense Transparency Index. Tai Ming Cheung and Jordan Wilson University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Prepared for 2014 Defense Information Sharing Workshop September 15-16, La Jolla, United States. Outline.

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2013 2014 northeast asia defense transparency index

2013-2014 Northeast Asia Defense Transparency Index

Tai Ming Cheung and Jordan Wilson

University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation

Prepared for 2014 Defense Information Sharing Workshop

September 15-16, La Jolla, United States


  • Importance and Definition of Defense Transparency

  • DTI Methodology and Scope

  • Summary of Key Findings

  • Individual Country Performances

  • Topic Performances

  • Alternative Weightings

Importance of defense t ransparency
Importance of Defense Transparency

Transparency is critical pillar in forging trust and confidence in defense issues—both domestically and internationally

Increasing demands for defense transparency domestically (political accountability, media, and popular interest) and externally (states, international organizations)

But defense transparency is a highly politicized and contested concept that has lacked common definitions

Goal of IGCC’s Defense Transparency Index (DTI) project is to provide rigorous measurement of defense transparency in Northeast Asia

Defining defense t ransparency
Defining Defense Transparency

Defense transparency is an ongoing process in which governments credibly transmit timely, relevant, and sufficient information about their military power and activities, budgetary matters, and intentions to allow other states and domestic audiences to assess the consistency of this information with declared strategic interestsand institutional obligations to reduce misperception, ensure good governance, and build mutual trust

Three key concepts: information-sharing process, domestic institutions and hierarchies, and signals and intentions

Eight indicators derived from these concepts to measure defense transparency

Defense transparency index coverage
Defense Transparency Index Coverage

1. Disclosures in defense white papers

2. Information available on official defense websites

3. Reporting to the United Nations

4. Openness of defense budgets

5. Legislative oversight

6. Robustness of press independence

7. Reporting of international military activity

8. Disclosure of cyber activities

New to 2014 index
New to 2014 Index

Added defense-focused section to Budget indicator

Added strategic intentions section to International and Cyberspace indicators

Slight scoring change for United Nations indicator

Broadened range of sources for Legislative Oversight and Cyberspace indicators

Incorporated updated Open Budget Index (OBI), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Index, United Nations reporting measures, and white papers for United States, Republic of Korea, Japan, China

Streamlined selection of variables throughout DTI to remove redundancies, and standardized citations for every data entry

Summary of key findings
Summary of Key Findings

Japan remains first despitedeclines in media and website scoring, although enjoyed marginal gains in legislative oversight and UN reporting

U.S. narrowed gap with Japan because of major improvements in transparency of international activities

ROK suffered from declines in media, website, cyber, and UN reporting, but had gains in legislative oversight and budget affairs

Russia remains fourth, but its overall scoring rating declined, especially in media, international activities, and legislative oversight

China is fifth but closing gap with Russia and only state to show year-on-year improvement, especially in UN and media reporting, but declines in website, white paper, and cyber

Summary of ratings of 8 major dti indicators
Summary of Ratings of 8 Major DTI Indicators

Overall average has been stable, although considerable fluctuations over past four years

Major decline in media reporting and marginal declines in websites and budgets

Noticeable improvements in legislative oversight and UN reporting (Standardized Instrument (Milex), Register of Conventional Arms, National Legislation on Transfer of Arms (NLDU), Information on Confidence-Building Measures (CBM)

Individual country performance
Individual CountryPerformance


Japan narrowly retained first place, but scoring declined slightly

Improvements: UN reporting because of better reporting, Legislature because of improved IGCC sourcing

Declines: Media due to secrecy law, Cyberspace due to reduced disclosures, Website because of reporting fluctuations

Japan leads in numerous categories, but has room for improvement in media freedom, legislative oversight, and cyberspace disclosures

Increased defense spending and force buildup may affect perceptions under International Activities in future

United states
United States

U.S. ranks second, with little separating it with Japan, but year-on-year decline

Improvements in White Paper due to inclusion of more detail in 2014 QDR, Website transparency is excellent

Declines in UN due to missing reporting, Media due to RSF score change, Cyberspace due to global surveillance revelations

Improvements can be made in credibility in Media and Cyber, expand UN reporting (Conventional Arms, NLDU, CBM) and include more details on command chains, unit locations, and armaments in white paper equivalent documents

Republic of korea
Republic of Korea

ROK retained third place but trending downfrom previous years

Improvements in Budget, Legislature due to Open Budget Index (OBI) changes, year-to-year reporting adjustments

Declines in Media due to RSF score changes, UN Reporting due to delayed reporting, Cyber due to reduced disclosures

Could make improvements in UN reporting (Milex, NLDU, CBM), more disclosures on military expenditure, press freedom, information on cyber doctrines, policies, and defensive measures


Russia stayed in fourth place, but had largest year-on-year decline (7 percentage points)

Little change in five categories

Declines in Legislature due to increased perception of “rubber stamp” authority, International Activities due to unannounced missions, arms transfersand exercises, Cyberspace due to Snake cyber weapon revelations

New white paper with more information on organization, missions, personnel, spending, procurement, armaments, and bases would assist score


China ranked fifth, but only state whose score increased in latest index, closing on Russia

Improvements: UN reporting due to increase in submissions; personnel figures included in White Paper and Website for first time

6 indicators declined with lowest scores on institutional-focused indicators—Budget, Media, and Legislature

More details needed on procurement, organizational structure, armaments, and budgeting, which other states receive credit

Performance on credibility-related variables in Budget, International Activities, and Cyberspace will bear watching

Defense white papers
Defense White Papers

Japan and ROK saw year-to-year reporting adjustments, slight changes

China included personnel figures for first time in 2013 white paper but removed spending information, down 9 points

Russia has produced no new white paper, saw year-to-year reporting adjustments, slight changes

U.S. included more detailed personnel figures in QDR 2014, up 1 point

Official defense ministry websites
Official Defense Ministry Websites

Website information fluctuates almost constantly

Japan, ROK, and U.S. saw year-to-year reporting adjustments, no fundamental changes

China added personnel figures but fluctuated in information on bases and other variables, down 5 points

Russia showed slightly less information on personnel figures, bases, and operations, down 1 point

Un reporting
UN Reporting

Japan updated its submissions but not its Confidence Building Measures form, down 4 points

China significantly improved reporting in Milex, Conventional Arms, CBM, NLDU and gained 44 points

ROK updated conventional armsformbut lags behind on others, down 7 points

Russia submitted two new forms (Milex, Conventional Arms), but nothing for imports/exports, down 3 points

U.S. submitted 2 new forms (Milex, Conventional Arms) with little detail on latter, down 10 points

Defense budgets
Defense Budgets

IGCC categories (20%): accuracy, legislative oversight, detail, secrecy, off-budget

Japan and U.S. saw little change in both categories

China declined in OBI (weak legislature, independent auditing, public participation), declined in defense budgeting (esp. accuracy, oversight, detail, secrecy), fell 6 points

ROK improved in OBI and defense budgeting (exception: proportion of secret budget items) rose 4 points

Russia improved in OBI but fell in defense budgeting (esp. secrecy, oversight, detail), down 2 points

Legislative oversight
Legislative Oversight

Japan benefited from broadening of sources by IGCC that led to better understanding of budget process, gained 22 points

China and ROK saw only slight year-to-year changes

Russia improved in budget hearings, but legislative authority slipped on balance, down 18 points

U.S. saw slight change in OBI grade (committee scrutiny of audit reports), but no change to score

Defense media reporting
Defense Media Reporting

RSF underwent major revision, IGCC section saw realignment of publications used

Japan suffered in RSF and IGCC scoring (media publishing freedom) as result of special intelligence protection bill, down 27 points

China and Russia saw slight changes due to year-on-year reporting fluctuations

ROK dropped in RSF due to arrest of 2 journalists, down 20 points

U.S. saw major reduction in RSF score due to several cases (Manning, Snowden, AP records seizure, arrest of sources based on Espionage Act), down 16 points

International defense activities
International Defense Activities

Japan and ROK saw slight year-to-year reporting adjustments, no change

China slightly affected by unilateral establishment of ADIZ and unannounced military activities, down 8 points

Russia affected by unannounced missions, arms transfers, and exercises related to conflict in eastern Ukraine, down 24 points

U.S. provided additional transparency on exercises and missions in 2014 QDR, balancing subtraction for unannounced exercise, gained 2 points


Japan and ROK saw declines due to year-to-year reporting adjustments, overall trend in reduced cyberspace disclosures

China affected by revelations on cyber exploitations, down 11 points

Russia affected by revelations on Snake/Ouroboros cyber weapon, down 3 points

U.S. lost 13 points due to revelations on global surveillance, penetration of private and academic networks, and cyberattack target lists, but gained points through information provided in new QDR and Congressional testimony, down 2 points overall

Continued development of dti
Continued Development of DTI

Standardized and documented process to better facilitate consistency

Incorporates data from Open Budget Index, Reporters Without Borders Index, Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index, UN Reporting Instruments,SIPRI and IISSReports and will reflect year-to-year changes within these measures

Now able to measure concepts such as consistency with stated intentions, signaling, and perceptions to react immediately to military buildups, exercises, force projections, cyber activities

DTI has 472 variables drawing upon expanded range of documents and sources, aimed at covering all aspects of our definition and providing mechanism to gauge future movements in regional defense transparency