Taiwan to raise defence spending as China details combat drills

Clay Curtis
August 14, 2020

Taiwan unveiled a T$42.1 billion ($1.4 billion) increase for next year's planned defence spending on Thursday (13 August), as China announced details of its latest combat drills near the democratic island.

As an elder statesman in 2018, he tried to set up a referendum that would have formally changed the name of the government he once led to "Taiwan" instead of "Republic of China", the name Beijing (barely) tolerates.

China said on Wednesday that US Health Secretary Alex Azar has performed the "worst in the world" in controlling the novel coronavirus, rejecting criticism of China made by Azar during a three-day trip to Taiwan this week.

Without mentioning any country, the spokesperson said that some major powers have recently continued with negative moves over Taiwan, sending a wrong message to pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

Taiwan has around 215,000 soldiers and a defence budget of $12 billion compared with China's estimated two million armed forces backed by a budget of $178 billion, according to AFP data.

The budget must be approved by lawmakers and is unlikely to be blocked as Ms Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party has a large majority in the legislature.

The United States is bound by Congress to provide Taiwan with arms to defend itself.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto USA embassy to the Republic of China, praised Lee as a "reformer, partner, and friend of the United States".

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Last year, the U.S. State Department approved arms sales worth US$10 billion for Taiwan, including 106 M1A2 Abrams tanks and 66 F-16V fighter jets.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to bring it under its rule, by force if necessary.

"Beijing must recognize that Taiwan is a democracy whose future is decided by our own people", Tsai warned in her speech.

The U.S.' pressuring campaign against China will only make Chinese people more united, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, commenting on the results of a questionnaire gathered from over 100,000 responses on China-U.S. relations.

The US health official met with Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen, with whom he discussed a closer relationship between both countries.

"On issues involving China's core interests, some people in the United States must not have any illusions and wishful thinking".

The United States has ramped up arms sales to Taiwan, including tanks and fighter jets, and has taken an increasingly strident position in supporting Taiwan's role on the global stage, particularly at the World Health Organization (WHO).

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