Taiwan’s declining defense budget could encourage Beijing to use military force to achieve its political objectives, a new research paper from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said.
The nation’s “diminishing ability” to maintain a credible deterrent capability could provide “incentives and create opportunities” for China, it said.
Beijing might “take a greater risk in its approach to cross-strait relations, including pressuring Taipei to move towards political talks or using military force to achieve political objectives,” the report said.
The report, Taiwan’s Declining Defense Spending, was published on Tuesday by the US congressionally appointed commission, which is assigned to investigate the national security implications of US trade with China.
Prepared by senior policy analyst Craig Murray and researcher Kyle Churchman, the report said that as Taiwan “struggles” with its declining military preparedness, Taipei may seek to develop closer political ties with Washington.
It said that Taiwan’s primary security objectives are to defend against China’s efforts to force “reunification” and preserve cross-strait peace and stability.
“While Taiwan’s military over the last decade has made some improvements, it has focused largely on sustaining existing capabilities,” the report added.
China’s rapid military modernization during this time has “negated” many of the military advantages Taiwan previously held over China, the report said.
However, despite its growing military disadvantage relative to China, Taiwan’s defense budget continues to decline, the report said, falling from US$10.6 billion last year to US$10.5 billion this year.
According to the Congressional Research Service, Taiwan’s current defense spending represents 2.1 percent of GDP.
“This is considerably less than three percent of GDP — the level at which President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) pledged to maintain defense spending — and marks a substantial decrease from 3.8 percent of GDP in 1994,” the report said.
It added that official statements and documents suggest that Taiwan’s government judges the current level of defense spending to be sufficient and it is likely to remain stagnant through at least the end of Ma’s term in 2016 as he focuses on continuing to improve cross-strait relations and strengthening “soft power” approaches to deterrence.
The report said that Ma appears to have little incentive to increase the defense budget since improved cross-strait relations have reduced public perception of the China threat in Taiwan.
“Domestic and social welfare issues have become more salient as Taiwan’s economy attempts to recover from the global financial crisis and its workforce ages,” it said.
If spending continues to fall, Taiwan’s military may find it hard to maintain current operational capabilities, readiness levels and equipment inventories, it added.
“Taiwan also could find it increasingly difficult to make progress toward key modernization goals, such as preparing for a wider range of missions at greater distances from Taiwan and integrating innovative and asymmetric capabilities into its military,” the report said.
The Han Kuang exercises, the nation’s major war games, are to start today and run for five days. The drills are to include a military aircraft emergency takeoff and landing exercise on a regular roadway on Wednesday, featuring all three fighter jet models in Taiwan’s fleet, a military source said last week. The drill is to begin at 6:30am on a 3km section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung County’s Jiadong Township (佳冬), and feature an Indigenous Defense Fighter, an F-16V, a Mirage 2000-5 and an E-2K Hawkeye early warning aircraft, the source said. The emergency landing and takeoff drill aims to
MRNA VACCINE: Heart inflammation is rare, but possible after a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot, and students need to be aware of possible side effects, an expert said As Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations for students aged 12 to 17 are to begin on campuses on Thursday next week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged recipients to be especially watchful for five signs of possible myocarditis or pericarditis, which are rare adverse reactions to some COVID-19 vaccines. The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convener Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) joined the CECC’s daily news briefing to report on possible side effects after receiving a BioNTech vaccine. Lee said that cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been observed in people in the US who have received mRNA COVID-19
Taiwan on Friday accused China of seeking to use the Honduran election to “create controversy” and undermine Taiwan’s long-standing ties with the country, saying it would strive to win support for Honduras’ relations with Taipei. Honduras’ main left-wing opposition party, the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), led by ousted former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, has said that if it wins November’s presidential election it would seek to “readjust” the country’s debt and establish diplomatic relations with China. Honduras is one of 15 UN member countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has already warned Honduras not
TESTING THE WATERS: Making the considerations public a day after a Biden-Xi phone call indicates that the US is testing China’s reaction, a think tank head said A Financial Times report that the US is considering allowing Taiwan to change the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington to feature the name “Taiwan” highlighted Washington’s “two-pronged” approach to China, a researcher said yesterday. The report on Friday said that Washington might allow the nation to change the office’s name to “Taiwan Representative Office.” The report came after US President Joe Biden on Thursday spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) by telephone for the first time since February. A White House readout of the call said that “the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both