Taiwan Announces Military Expansion plans to Counter China
Taiwan has announced ambitious military and naval expansion plans to counter what the self-ruled island calls an 'increasing military' threat from Mainland China. The important announcement comes almost a week after China revealed that it would increase this year's military budget by mere 7 percent.
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Speaking to lawmakers in Taipei, Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan revealed that Taiwan plans to upgrade the existing F16 warplanes and also import new age stealth aircraft from the U.S. Besides, Feng mentioned that acquiring more surface-to-air missiles is also part of the island nation's military expansion plan.
All these ambitious expansion plans are a part of Taiwan's annual $11.4bn defence budget for the current year, an increase of 1 percent from the previous year. The military and naval expansion plans would most likely to be pursued in next year's budget as well, which would account for 3 percent of island's GDP.
Taiwan has specifically outlined about the growing military threat from China in its 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the draft copy of which was accessed by the Reuters. "The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in [China's] military threat capabilities," the news agency quoted the draft as saying.
Taiwan's defence ministry states in the review report, which is published once in every four years, that the island nation is vulnerable to attack from both sea and water owing to Beijing's non-stop construction work at the artificial islands in South China Sea region.
It further claims that China's immediate plan includes using 'diverse military means' to block Taiwan's access to these artificial islands and also taking control of island groups located in the remote parts of South China Sea.
Beijing and Taipei's bilateral relationship has nosedived ever since the pro-independent leader Tsai Ing-wen assumed the power in self-ruled island nation last year. Tsai's secessionist views have resulted in repeated challenge to 'One China' policy, which has left the Chinese leadership completely miffed.
China continues to stake claim over Taiwan and states that the 'One China' policy is simply non-negotiable. It claims that the self-ruled island nation is a wayward province that is waiting for unification with Mainland China.