Taiwan sharply boosts defense budget amid China tension

August 16, 2019 09:47
Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen has proposed a more than 8% increase in military spending for the coming year. Photo: Reuters

Taiwan unveiled its largest defense spending increase in more than a decade on Thursday amid rising military tensions with neighboring China, Reuters reports.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s cabinet signed off on an 8.3 percent increase in military spending for the year starting January to NT$411.3 billion (US$13.11 billion), its largest yearly gain since 2008, according to the report.

If approved by lawmakers, which is likely given the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s control of parliament, it will be the highest since records started in 2001, the report said, citing data from Taiwan's Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

China warned in July it was ready for war if there was any move toward Taiwan’s independence and denounced arms sales from the United States to the island, which it considers a renegade province.

"To react to the enemy’s threat and to ensure national security, the defense budget continues to grow stably,” Taiwan’s defense ministry was quoted as saying in a statement.

The ministry said it will spend more to purchase advanced weapons from overseas and to build a fully volunteer force after decades of conscription.

China, which suspects Tsai of pushing for the island’s formal independence, has been ramping up military pressure on Taiwan, which includes encirclement drills around it and flying jets across a maritime border separating the two sides, a move Taipei called “provocative”.

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