TAIPEI: Taiwan proposed a budget of USD 17.3 billion in defence for 2023 on Thursday, a 14.9 per cent increase from this year's total allocation, weeks after China started its military drill around the self-ruled island country post the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In the proposed budget, the figure includes NTD 108.3 for new advanced combat jets and programs for elevating sea and air combat capability. And the total budget reached NTD 586.3 billion if another special fund is included, Nikkei Asia reported. The budget now goes for approval to the Legislative Yuan, which begins a new session next month.
Currently, Taiwan is grappling with increasing Chinese aggression, with concerns growing over the island's ability to defend itself after Beijing conducted its biggest-ever military drills surrounding its neighbour earlier this month.
The People's Liberation Army sent aircraft, drones, missiles and warships around Taiwan and its outlying islands after a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In January, Taiwanese lawmakers passed an extra spending bill of around USD 8.6 billion for a five-year special defence budget on top of the annual defence budget, reported Nikkei Asia.
This year, Chinese defence spending has risen by 7.1 per cent to 1.45 trillion yuan, faster than the 6.8 per cent increase in 2021. Over the weapons, Lee Hsi-min, former chief of general staff of Taiwan's armed forces said that Taipei should prioritize weapons that are cost-effective and more survivable.
"Conventional weapons such as tanks, submarines and aircraft have high opportunity costs. If you spend your money on these big weapons, you don't have resources for smaller ones."
"Taiwan should acquire a lot of small, mobile and inexpensive weapons, which could outlast initial assaults by Beijing, especially by Chinese long-range missiles or fighter jets. So Chinese forces have to attempt to get nearer to Taiwan, which makes them more vulnerable," Lee added.
Various obstacles stand in the way of reforms, and military personnel dominate the Defense Ministry, according to Nikkei Asia. Citing Ukraine's success in staving off Russian invaders, Lee said a standing, all-volunteer Taiwanese territorial defence force would raise the cost and uncertainty of a Chinese invasion, and strengthen deterrence by demonstrating national resolve.
But others disagree. Wong Ming-Shien of the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies cited insufficient funding, the lack of training grounds and weaponry, and the impact on the professional armed forces if they were tasked with training civilians.