Conflicts & War

Need to bolster Taiwan’s defense capacity as military threats rise, says president

Beijing, Aug 23 (EFE).- Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen Wednesday emphasized the need to bolster the island’s defense capabilities in the face of rising military threats in the region.

Tsai did not explicitly name China but made it clear, saying “expansion” and “authoritarianism” were disturbing regional security and stability.

The Taiwanese president spoke at the remembrance service who died during a war against a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invasion of the islands of Kinmen 65 years ago.

According to the official Central News Agency, she visited the island of Kinmen, only a few kilometers from China, with Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng and National Security Council head Wellington Koo.

“We need to strengthen ourselves to keep the peace,” said Tsai. “We must go ahead with national defense reforms, push for a self-reliant defense capability, and continuously improve our combat power and resilience.”

The government on Monday said it planned to increase Taiwan’s defense spending by 3.5 percent to reach $19 billion in 2024. The budget needs parliamentary approval.

The military budget, nearly 2.5 percent of the GDP, will be the highest Taiwan has allocated for defenses.

Tsai reaffirmed that the Taiwanese position to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait was firm,

She said Taiwan would not exist if its forces had not prevailed during the 1958 conflict on the island in the narrow strip of ocean that divides Taiwan and China.

“Sixty-five years have passed, but the threat of authoritarianism continues to affect the security and stability of the straits. Taiwan insists on democracy and freedom,” she said.

China has stepped up its sea and aerial military activities around Taiwan.

The Chinese military carried out naval and air war drills encircling the island after Vice President William Lai’s stopover in the United States as he visited Paraguay.

Beijing alleged that Lai had sought support from Washington for the independence of Taiwan.

China considers the self-ruled island part of its territory and has repeatedly said it reserved the right to use force to reunify Taiwan.

The island was the refuge of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) forces after losing the civil war with the Communists, who, since then, have claimed sovereignty over the territory. EFE


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