Taiwan alarms over increase in Chinese defense spending: minister

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s defense minister said on Monday a sharp increase in Chinese military spending for 2023 shows Beijing is “preparing to use force if necessary” to potentially retake the self-governing island.

China on Sunday said it is increasing military spending by 7.2 percent – the fastest pace in four years – to 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion) at a key session of its stamp parliament.

Speaking to lawmakers, Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said, “It appears that the other side is preparing to use force should the need arise in the future.”

Taiwan lives under the constant threat of an invasion from China, which sees the democratically governed island as part of its territory, which it intends to one day take, by force if necessary.

Beijing has stepped up the pressure over the past year, holding huge military drills in Taiwan in August after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island.

On Monday, Chiu said future high-level visits by foreign dignitaries could be a catalyst for an invasion.

“I think they are waiting for a good reason to send troops, like high-level visits to Taiwan from other countries or too frequent activities between our military and other countries,” he said.

The minister said Taiwan is “making preparations in advance” for encroaching into deeper waters around the island than has been the norm in recent years.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed Chiu’s remarks during a briefing on Monday.

“Taiwan is part of China and therefore Taiwan does not have a defense minister,” Mao Ning said.

“Both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese territory. China will take decisive action to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

At the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Sunday, outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reiterated mainland opposition to Taiwan independence and called for “peaceful reunification.”

On Monday, Taiwan Premier Chen Chien-jen urged China to “respect” Taiwan.

“Cross-strait relations should be conducted on the principles of rationality, equality and mutual respect so that relations can develop positively in a healthy and sustainable manner,” he said. -AFP

https://www.thesundaily.my/world/taiwan-alarmed-by-chinese-defence-spending-hike-minister-JH10714782 Taiwan alarms over increase in Chinese defense spending: minister

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