Taiwan not in arms race with China: MND


TAIPEI — Despite warming Taiwan-China ties, President Ma Ying-jeou has never deviated from his resolve to maintain cross-Taiwan Strait peace and safeguard national security since assuming office in May 2008, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.

Since coming to power, the president has repeatedly encouraged the military to build a “trim and powerful” force strong enough to protect Taiwan and fend off war in the strait, the MND said in a statement.

Although China has spared no efforts to build up its military, Taiwan will not engage in an arms race with China and will make the best use of its military budget to defend itself, it said.

According to the ministry, based on Washington’s Taiwan Relations Act, the government has spent over US$12 billion purchasing major weapons systems from the U.S. in 2008 and 2010,including Osprey-class coastal mine hunters and UH-60 helicopters, as well as PAC-III and Harpoon missiles.

In the meantime, the government will continue seeking to acquire arms from the U.S. to advance Taiwan’s defensive capabilities, it added.

The ministry made the statement in response to a local media report that Taiwan’s defense budget has decreased every year since Ma took power.

According to the report, China’s 2011 military budget is around 601.1 billion yuan (US$91.5 billion) — a 12.7 percent increase over the 2010 figure and 10 times that of Taiwan’s budget this year.