Taiwan will continue to increase military spending as it works to strengthen its national defense capabilities, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday told a delegation from a Washington-based think tank, while the Ministry of National Defense said it was closely monitoring Chinese military planes and navy vessels during their exercises near Taiwan.
Meeting with Hudson Institute president Kenneth Weinstein and others with his group, Tsai said Taiwan maintains stable and close economic and regional security relations with the US.
As head of state, one of her priorities is to strengthen Taiwan’s defensive capabilities and promote the development of its defense industry, and the government plans to increase its defense budget to enhance military training and boost military morale, she said.
Taiwan has made many efforts in this area, Tsai said, adding that she looks forward to receiving suggestions from the institute, particularly in the fields of military reforms and cooperation to strengthen regional peace and stability.
She did not give any figures, but in March the government suggested it wanted to increase defense spending from 2 percent of GDP to about 3 percent of GDP, which would mean a 50 percent increase in defense spending.
However, the Ministry of National Defense’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018, which it submitted earlier this month, was for NT$327.8 billion (US$10.83 billion), an increase of 1.9 percent over its NT$321.7 billion budget for this year.
Meanwhile, ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said China’s far-sea training activities that bring its fighters and vessels near Taiwan are expected to become routine and the defense forces have a set of response options.
Chen made the remarks in response to reporters’ questions following a news conference in Beijing on Sunday on the sidelines of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress on the theme of “solid strides on the path of building a powerful military with Chinese characteristics.”
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force bomber pilot Liu Rui (劉銳) told the news conference that since the PLA expanded its far-sea training to the deep seas several years ago, it has made such deployments a routine part of its live-fire exercise cycles.
The Chinese military would continue to expand its far-sea training, increase the frequency of such training activities and increase the scale of its exercises, Liu said.
PLA aircraft and vessels have several times flown or sailed near southern Taiwan and into the Western Pacific via the Miyako Strait, which lies between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, and is part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, but includes a narrow band of international waters and airspace.
Chinese fighter jets and ships have also regularly crossed the “first island chain,” which refers to the first major archipelagos off the East Asian continental mainland, including the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and the northern Philippines.
Chen said that the military is closely monitoring the air space and seas above and around Taiwan, and has a range of responses.
He also urged the public to support the government’s efforts to develop a more independent defense sector and asymmetric warfare capabilities.
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy
REACHING OUT: President Tsai expressed condolences to the deceased man’s family and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the shooting The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) on Monday called on the US to label organizations associated with the suspect in the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting as domestic terrorists, following accusations that he was a member of a group backing unification with ties to the Chinese government. David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, was arrested on Sunday and is being held in lieu of US$1 million bail at the Orange County Intake Release Center over a mass shooting at the California church that left one dead and five wounded. Local police suspect the shooting was politically motivated after they found notes in