A file photo of Taiwanese military personnel honouring Taiwanese flag Photograph:( Reuters )
China has been seen to be increasingly aggressive towards Taiwan in recent times. The increased budget spending is likely to draw strong reaction
Taiwanese parliament on Tuesday cleared an extra defence funding bill of USD 8.6 billion in its latest attempt to boost its defence capabilities. This is likely to draw sharper reaction from China which has been viewed as being increasingly aggressive towards Taiwan.
China does not recognise Taiwan as a separate country and considers it as its own province.
The Taiwan government proposed a five-year special defence budget of around TW$237.3 billion from 2022 as Chinese warplanes breached its air defence zone at unprecedented levels last year.
Democratic Taiwan lives under constant threat of an invasion by authoritarian China, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory to be seized one day -- by force if necessary.
Beijing's sabre-rattling towards the island has increased considerably since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016, as she regards the island as a sovereign nation and not part of "one China."
Last year, Taiwan recorded incursions by around 970 Chinese warplanes into its air defence zone, according to a database compiled by AFP, more than double the roughly 380 carried out in 2020.
On Tuesday, Taiwanese lawmakers agreed unanimously to pass the special budget, although cut it by TW$310 million. The package comes on top of a record annual defence budget of TW$471.7 billion set for 2022.
It aims to acquire various precision missiles and mass-manufacture high-efficiency naval ships "in the shortest period of time" to boost the island's sea and air capabilities, the government said.
J Michael Cole, a Taipei-based political and military analyst, called the special budget "an encouraging and much-needed development" as Taiwan prioritises "asymmetrical" capabilities, such as unmanned vehicles, anti-ship missiles and air-to-ground cruise missiles.
"Many of those are 'counterforce' capabilities, with ranges that are long enough to hit targets along China’s coastline" in line with the direction Taiwan's defence ministry has taken in recent years, said Cole, a senior fellow for Canadian think tank Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
(With inputs from agencies)