Taiwan Proposes 14% Increase in Military Spending for 2023

Taiwanese government proposed on Thursday a $19 billion of defense spending for 2023, a 13.9% increase from 2022. The proposal includes funds for new fighter jets, just weeks after China conducted large scale military drills around the island. China carried out its largest-ever military exercises around the democratically governed island after a visit this month by U.S. House Speaker Pelosi. The trip angered Beijing, which saw it as a U.S. attempt to interfere in its internal affairs.

If the proposed budget is approved, Taiwan’s military expenditure will reach a record T$586.3 billion ($19.41 billion).

That includes an additional T$108.3 billion for fighter jets and other equipment, as well as “special funds” for the defense ministry. A specific break down of where the money would go has not been revealed.

The proposal needs parliamentary approval before it becomes law. It will mark the island’s sixth consecutive year of growth in defense spending since 2017.

The double-digit rise in 2022 marks a sharp increase compared with the island’s defense spending growth in recent years; yearly growth has been below 4% since 2017.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said the budget was created in consideration to the “enermy threat” and would be equal to 2.4% of the island’s projected GDP for next year.

The defense ministry statement added that it would continue to follow “the principle of preparing for war without seeking it and defending national security with strength” amid continuing Chinese targeted military activities in recent years.

Excluding the extra budget for military equipment and funds, the proposed defense spending represents a 12.9% year-on-year increase, compared with a 20.8% increase in the overall government budget proposed for next year.

The proposed spending accounts for 14.6% of the government’s total spending for next year and is the fourth-largest spending segment, after social welfare and combined spending on education, science and culture, and economic development.

Last year Taiwan announced an extra defense budget of $8.69 billion by 2026. The government said it would come in addition to its yearly military spending, mostly on naval weapons, including missiles and warships.

In March, China said it would spend 7.1% more on defense this year, setting the spending figure at 1.45 trillion yuan ($211.62 billion).

China has been continuing its military activities near Taiwan, albeit on a reduced scale.

China has been investing in advanced equipment, including stealth fighters and aircraft carriers, which Taiwan is trying to counter by putting more effort into weapons such as missiles that can strike far into China’s territory.

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