Taiwan aims for big rise in defence spending amid escalating China tension

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TAIPEI, Aug. 25 (Reuters) – Taiwan on Thursday proposed $19 billion in defense spending for next year, a double-digit increase from 2022, including money for new fighter jets, weeks after China staged large-scale military exercises around the island that sees it as its territory.

China conducted its biggest-ever war games around the democratically-ruled island after a visit this month from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The trip infuriated Beijing, which it saw as an attempt by the US to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

The total defense budget proposed by President Tsai Ing-wen’s cabinet is up 13.9% year-on-year to a record T$586.3 billion ($19.41 billion).

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That includes an additional T$108.3 billion for fighter jets and other equipment, as well as “special funds” for the Department of Defense. The Directorate-General for Budget, Accounts and Statistics did not provide a specific breakdown of where the money would go.

The planned defense spending, which is at an all-time high and must be approved by parliament, marks the sixth consecutive year of growth in defense spending on the island since 2017.

The double-digit increase in 2022 marks a sharp increase compared to the growth of the island’s defense spending in recent years; Annual growth has been below 4% since 2017.

Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming said the increase would mainly go to operational costs.

“We always give security and national security the highest priority … that’s why (the budget for) operational costs are skyrocketing,” Chu said, pointing to costs such as fuel and maintenance for aircraft and ships deployed to support Chinese military activities in the vicinity. from Taiwan. .

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the budget fully took into account the “enemy threat” and was equivalent to 2.4% of Taiwan’s projected GDP for next year.

“In light of the continued expansion of targeted military activities by the Chinese Communists in recent years and the normalized use of warships and military aircraft to raid and disrupt the surrounding seas and airspace of Taiwan, the military is adhering to the principle of preparing for war without seeking war and defending national security with vigor,” it said.

CHINESE DRILLING

Excluding the additional budget for military equipment and funds, the proposed defense spending represents a 12.9% year-on-year increase, compared to a 20.8% increase in the total government budget proposed for next year.

The proposed spending will account for 14.6% of total government spending for next year and will be the fourth largest spending segment, after social services and combined spending on education, science and culture and economic development.

The island last year announced an additional defense budget of $8.69 billion by 2026, on top of annual military spending, mainly for naval weapons, including missiles and warships.

In March, China said it would spend 7.1% more on defense this year, setting its spending figure at 1.45 trillion yuan ($211.62 billion), though many experts suspect that’s not the true figure, a allegation that the government disputes. read more

China continues its military activities near Taiwan, albeit on a smaller scale.

Live fire drills will take place on Friday and Saturday in a coastal portion of China’s Fujian province just north of the small Taiwan-controlled Wuchiu Islands in the Taiwan Strait, Fujian authorities said on Wednesday, announcing a no-sail area. at.

Tsai has made modernizing its armed forces – well armed but unmarried to those of China – a priority.

China is spending on advanced equipment, including stealthy fighters and aircraft carriers, that Taiwan is trying to counter by putting more energy into weapons like missiles that can strike far into the territory of its giant neighbor.

China does not rule out using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and that only the Taiwanese people can decide their future.

During a meeting with visiting Japanese academics at her office on Thursday, Tsai reiterated that the determination to protect their sovereignty, freedom and democracy would not change “because of pressure or threats”.

“At the same time, as a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will not provoke incidents or allow conflicts to escalate,” Tsai said.

($1 = 30,2080 Taiwan Dollars)

($1 = 6.8519 Chinese Yuan)

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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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