Mon, Jan 22, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ex-defense chief urges spending boost

CHINESE THREAT:Michael Tsai told a forum in Taichung that the nation needs to develop its own aircraft, vessels and weapons to ensure defensive self-sufficiency

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

In light of the threat posed by China, former minister of national defense Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) yesterday called for an increase in military spending from 2 percent to 3 percent of GDP and an overhaul of the plan to transition the military into all voluntary force.

Taiwan should increase military spending and develop its defense industries in response to increased Chinese military activities around Taiwan, Tsai said during a defense and aviation forum in Taichung that was also attended by Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC) chairman Anson Liao (廖榮鑫), Taichung Deputy Mayor Chang Kuang-yao (張光瑤) and Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers.

China’s annual military spending has been growing by 8.5 percent annually, and is 14 times higher than Taiwan’s, so the Ministry of National Defense needs to increase its spending from 2 percent of GDP to 3 percent, Tsai said.

Taiwan also needs to develop its own aircraft, vessels and defensive weapons to ensure defensive self-sufficiency, he said.

He also urged the US and Japan to build a peace maintenance mechanism with Taiwan to defend the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the East China Sea, following the increase in passages of Chinese military aircraft and an aircraft carrier group around Taiwan.

“The mechanism is more important than arms sales to Taiwan. Taiwan has bought armaments and weapons from the US and France over the past 20 years, but it is hardly possible that US would approve the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Taiwan. In light of this, it is more important to develop the peace maintenance mechanism,” Tsai said.

He also called for the meaningful implementation of the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which requires the US secretary of defense to submit to the US Congress an assessment on naval port of call exchanges between Taiwan and the US.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should consider reinstating conscription to ensure the supply of soldiers and public readiness against Chinese threat, he said.

Speaking at the forum, Liao reaffirmed AIDC’s goal to develop locally made jet trainers as part of the government’s aim to build a national defense industry.

The company is scheduled to begin assembling the first “Blue Magpie” prototype on June 1, he said.

Completion of the Blue Magpie would make Taiwan one of the only four nations capable of manufacturing jet trainers besides the US, Italy and South Korea, he said.

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