Pressure is mounting on Taiwan to spend more on its defense. Taipei expects a record budget for 2023.
While most Taiwanese are far from waking up to the Chinese invasion, Tsai’s government in Taipei has taken the country’s defense capabilities more seriously since US politician Nancy Pelosi visited the democratic island nation.
After Pelosi’s visit, China conducted its largest military exercises near (and sometimes in) Taiwan’s territorial waters. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has also launched fighter jets and drones near Taiwan and its islands. Beijing may have fired missiles across the island through orbit in spacealthough authorities in both China and Taiwan have not officially confirmed this.
Since the incident, officials in the Taiwanese government, the United States, Japan and other regional allies have raised concerns about the island’s ability to fend off a Chinese invasion.
So the government in Taipei on Thursday proposed increasing the defense budget for 2023 to 523 billion new Taiwan dollars, or about 17.2 billion euros. This is about 15 percent more than this year’s budget. The Japanese newspaper reported that nearly a fifth of this money will be allocated to purchase advanced combat aircraft and simplify cooperation between naval and air combat capabilities. Nikki Asia.
Lessons from Ukraine: “Cheap, Mobile, Small Arms”
American strategists have long wanted Taiwan to expand and modernize its army to turn the island into a pesky “porcupine” that the Chinese military would prefer to stay away from. To achieve this, Taiwan will have to focus more on cheaper, more effective weapons that are also highly mobile. This would also be a lesson that Taiwan and its allies learned by observing the trajectory of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This view was also recommended to the government in Taipei by senior officials such as Lee Hsi-min, former chief of the General Staff of the Taiwanese army. Conventional weapons such as tanks, submarines, and aircraft have a prohibitive opportunity cost. If you spent your money on these big guns, you wouldn’t have the resources for small guns” Nikki Asia. Taiwan needs to have plenty of small, mobile, and cheap weapons that can fend off Beijing’s attacks, especially those launched from long-range missiles or Chinese fighter jets. So the Chinese armed forces should try to get close to Taiwan, making it more vulnerable.”
“Large amount of firepower at low cost”
Meanwhile, China continues to ruthlessly increase its spending on the military. Beijing is pumping at least 1.45 trillion yuan, or 210 billion euros, into defense this year. This represents an increase of 7.1 percent compared to last year. In 2021, defense spending actually increased by 6.8%.
Chinese ground forces have invested heavily in their asymmetric capabilities to mitigate Taiwan’s resistance, using a great deal of firepower at a relatively low cost. Evan Kanapathi, an analyst with the Center for Research Studies at CSIS, concluded that Taiwan, frankly, needs to learn lessons from this approach to use cost-effective capabilities.
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