The government yesterday proposed extra defense spending of NT$240 billion (US$8.66 billion) over the next five years, including on new missiles, as it warned of an urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of “severe threats” from China.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has made modernizing the armed forces and increasing defense spending a priority, especially as Beijing ramps up military and diplomatic pressure against the nation.
The money, which comes on top of planned military spending of NT$471.7 billion for next year, would need to be approved by the Legislative Yuan, where Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party has a large majority, meaning its passage should be smooth.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
“The Chinese communists have continued to invest heavily in national defense budgets, its military strength has grown rapidly, and it has frequently dispatched aircraft and ships to invade and harass our seas and airspace,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement after a weekly Cabinet meeting.
“In the face of severe threats from the enemy, the nation’s military is engaged in military building and preparation work, and it is urgent to obtain mature and rapid mass production weapons and equipment in a short period of time,” it added.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Wang Shin-lung (王信龍) said the new weapons would be made domestically, as the nation boosts its production prowess, although the US would probably remain an important parts and technology provider.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
Taiwan has been keen to demonstrate that it can defend itself, especially amid questions about whether the US would come to its aid if China attacked.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said during the Cabinet meeting that there was great need to augment the military’s combat capabilities, especially for the naval and air force branches.
The special budget has prioritized domestically produced armaments, which could lead to increased corporate investment in the national defense supply chain, creating a win-win scenario for boosting economic growth and autonomous national defense production capabilities, Su said.
The weapons it aims to buy include cruise missiles and warships, the ministry said.
Eight categories of missiles are to be built domestically as part of the budget, Wang said.
They include coastal anti-surface missile systems; the Antelope air defense system; the Tien Kung III (Sky Bow III) land-based surface-to-air missile; an attack drone system; the Wan Chien (Thousand Swords) missile system and the Hsiung Feng IIE (Brave Wind) missile system, he said.
The special budget also calls for the installation of combat systems on Coast Guard Administration ships and continuing the Indigenous Shipbuilding Program, he added.
All items are considered critical if the military is to rapidly build up its combat capabilities, Wang said.
The ministry would provide more details on each item during a budget review, he added.
The announcement came as Taiwan is in the middle of its annual Han Kuang military exercises, which began on Monday and are to end today.
The army yesterday simulated fending off an invasion, firing artillery from a beach on the southern coast.
The exercises, Taiwan’s major war games, have been held annually since 1984, in the form of live-fire drills and computerized war games, to test the military’s combat readiness in the face of a possible Chinese invasion.
Additional reporting by CNA
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of