Taiwan plans to increase its military spending next year by the smallest percentage since 2018, even as Beijing ramps up its military pressure on the self-ruled island it considers its territory.The government in Taipei will raise its total defense spending to a record high of NT$606.8 billion ($19 billion), accounting for about 2.5% of GDP, according to a statement from the Presidential Office on Monday. That would represent a rise of about 4.6% on the government’s spending plans for 2023 — a significant drop-off from this year’s annual 12.5% increase.“Taiwan must continue to strengthen self-defense capabilities, demonstrate its determination of self-defense, ensure national security and interests, and strive for more international support,” President Tsai Ing-wen said in the statement

The deceleration in defense spending comes as Taiwan faces increased pressure to fend off daily Chinese incursions across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a tacit barrier that has separated the two rivals for decades.

China conducted a series of joint navy and air force exercises over the weekend, in protest against Vice President Lai Ching-te transit through the US en route to Paraguay, where he met with American officials. China’s military said the drills were intended as a warning to what it deems to be Taiwanese “separatist forces.”Taiwan’s economy also clocked a decline in export orders declined for an 11th straight month in July, as the global slump in consumer demand impacts high-tech chips. The island’s largest company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., surprised investors last month by cutting its annual revenue outlook, projecting a 10% fall in sales this year.Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected 45 People’s Liberation Army aircraft around Taiwan on Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday morning — 27 of which crossed the median line and entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ. Nine Chinese naval vessels also took part in the excursions, it said.Taiwan aims to complete its upgrade of 141 F-16 fighter jets by end of the year, according to Monday’s statement, with the first domestically built submarine prototype expected to begin sea trials next month.

 

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