Xi on alert as Taiwan unveils £19billion masterplan to steamroller Chinese invasion threat

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Taiwan yesterday proposed more than £19billion in defence spending for next year, a double-digit increase on 2022 which includes funds for new fighter jets, weeks after China staged military drills around the island it views as its sovereign territory. The exercises were launched after a visit this month by Ms Pelosi. The arrival of the US House of Representatives Speaker on the democratically governed island enraged Beijing, which saw it as an attempt by Washington to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

The overall proposed defence budget by President Tsai Ing-wen’s Cabinet sets a 13.9 percent year-on-year increase to a record T$586.3billion, equivalent to £16.37billion, and up £2.28billion on last year’s figure.

Taiwan is also planning to spend an additional £3billion (T$108.3 billion) on fighter jets and other equipment, as well as other “special funds” for the defence ministry.

A statement issued by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics did not offer a break down specifics on where the money would go.

However, the defence budget, which is a record high and must be approved by parliament, marks the island’s sixth consecutive year of growth in defence spending since 2017.

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Taiwan is significantly increasing defence spending in the face of China’s aggression (Image: Shutterstock)

Nancy Pelosi Tsai Ing-wen

Nancy Pelosi and Tsai Ing-wen during the US Speaker’s recent visit to Taiwan (Image: GETTY)

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

Statistics department minister Chu Tzer-ming said the increase in defence spending will mainly go to operational costs.

He explained: “We always give safety and national security the top priority. That’s why the budget for operational costs rises greatly.”

Chu highlighted costs such as fuel and maintenance for aircraft and ships dispatched to counter Chinese military activities near Taiwan.

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Taiwan is investing in more jet fighters (Image: Shutterstock)

That proposed spending makes up 14.6 percent 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.

The island, which has a population of just under 24 million, last year announced an extra defence budget of £7.33 billion by 2026, which came on top of its yearly military spending, mostly on naval weapons, including missiles and warships.

Nevertheless, the figures involved are dwarfed by those of China, which said in March it would spend 7.1 percent more on defence this year, setting the spending figure at 1.45 trillion yuan (£178.6billion).

China, led by President Xi Jinping, is investing in advanced equipment, including stealthy fighters and aircraft carriers, which Taiwan is trying to counter by putting more effort into weapons such as missiles which can strike far into its giant neighbour’s territory.

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Taiwan military exercises earlier this year (Image: Shutterstock)

Taiwan soldiers

Taiwanese soldiers (Image: Shutterstock)

Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory in accordance with the One China doctrine, has not ruled out using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects the claim, saying that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and that only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

Meeting visiting Japanese academics at her office on Thursday, Tsai reiterated that the determination to protect their sovereignty, freedom and democracy would not change “due to pressure or threats”.

In comments shared on her social media pages, she said: ”At the same time, as a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will not provoke incidents nor escalate conflicts.”

Speaking last month, Samuel Cranny-Evans, a Research Fellow with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), outlined how China might be plotting to force Taiwan into submission.

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China vs Taiwan in numbers (Image: Express)

He told Express.co.uk: “There are many options, but the focus is typically on two – a naval blockade, and an amphibious invasion.

“The blockade is an enormous challenge for Taiwan and the US as Taiwan is reliant upon imports for its food as well as minerals and various other elements that its economy and population need.

“The blockade could be relatively easy for China to establish and would mean the US and Taiwan would either need to fight their way through it, or abandon any hopes of supplying Taiwan. Beijing could then coerce Taiwan into doing what it wants.”

Mr Cranny-Evans added: “The second is a massive amphibious invasion, which would require up to a million Chinese personnel, it would be a build-up that Beijing could never hide and the world would probably know it was coming.

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping visits a forest park in Jinzhou in northeast China’s Liaoning province (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

“It would start with massive missile and air exchanges targeting Taiwan’s critical infrastructure and Taiwan would try to shoot the missiles and aircraft down, and return fire where it could.

“Once China felt that it had achieved enough, it would launch its invasion in successive waves.

“The focus would be on securing ports for heavier equipment to follow, before moving inland.

“Fighting would take place in Taiwan’s cities and mountains, it would be incredibly violent and bloody.”



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