Taiwan to boost defense spending amid China tensions

Taiwan to boost defense spending amid China tensions
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Taiwan introduced its largest defense budget increase in over a decade Thursday amid an escalating feud with neighboring China, which considers the island its own territory. 

President Tsai Ing-wen’s Cabinet approved an 8.3 percent increase in military spending for the year starting in January. The boost will bring the island’s military expenditures to T$411.3 billion ($13.11 billion), its largest yearly rise since 2008, Reuters reported, citing Taiwan’s Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

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The budget, which appears likely to be approved in the Parliament, will be the highest since 2001, when records were first compiled.

“To react to the enemy’s threat and to ensure national security, the defense budget continues to grow stably,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement obtained by Reuters, adding that it will boost spending on advanced weapons from overseas and work to build a fully volunteer military to try to phase out its draft.

The budget increase comes after China warned last month that it was prepared for war if Taiwan tried to declare independence and denounced a U.S. arms sale to the island as a threat to China’s sovereignty and national security.

The $2.2 billion arms sale includes 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles and was announced by the State Department in July.

Beijing has ramped up pressure on Taiwan with encirclement drills around the island and flying jets across their maritime border, according to Reuters. Taipei has slammed the moves as “provocative.”