Taiwan is reportedly planning to boost its defense spending by more than 10 percent in a bid to ramp up its military preparedness amid growing pressure from China. The proposal was made on Thursday by President Tsai Ing-wen's cabinet as it feels that a defense beef up has become inevitable given the present situation and constant threat from China, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said in a statement.
The move follows China's decision to step up its military activity around Taiwan in recent times. China has time and again used military power to bring Taiwan under its control and has often criticized the United States for arms sales to the island.
Taiwan to Beef up Military Spending
Ing-wen's cabinet has proposed to increase military spending to $15.42 billion (T$453.4 billion) for the year beginning January against T$411.3 billion budgeted for this year. This reflects a 10.2 percent jump in total military spending compared with this year, according to a Reuters calculation. Taiwan's decision to allocate more money into its defense comes at a time when it has been constantly feeling pressure from China which has increased its military activity around the island.
In recent times Ing-wen has stressed more on beefing up its security around the border and made defense spending a priority. Also, Taiwan is undertaking some important reforms and has been spending billions of dollars on expensive conventional weapons that are being provided by the United States.
Last year, Taiwan spent more than $2 billion on 108 M1AT Abrams main battle tanks. It maintains a fleet of amphibious assault ships and is trying to acquire even more. Meanwhile, it is still trying to build eight so-called Indigenous Diesel Submarines (IDS).
Is US the Reason?
China in recent times has increased military activity around Taiwan that is further pushing the island to increase its defense budget. China has been often flying fighter jets, following Ing-wen's re-election by a landslide in January on a platform of standing up to Beijing.
Moreover, China has always exercised its force to dominate and bring Taiwan under its control and has time and again condemned the United States for selling arms to China although Washington is bound to provide Taipei with the means to defend itself.
Last year, the United States approved arms sales worth $10 billion for Taiwan, including 106 M1A2 Abrams tanks and 66 F-16V fighter jets. Also, Taiwan is initiating talks with the United States to procure sea mines to deter amphibious landings as well as cruise missiles for coastal defense.
The recent developments have further infuriated China. In fact, Beijing last month said that it was planning to impose sanctions on US defense company Lockheed Martin for its involvement in arms sale to Taiwan. China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the United States should immediately stop military contact with Taiwan in a bid to maintain a good relationship with it.