MAJURO, The Marshall Islands (CNA) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has promised to boost Taiwan’s defense budget by at least 2 percent each year, taking into consideration the United States’ concern over a growing military imbalance between Taiwan and China, Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥), deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), said Monday.
The 2 percent annual hike will be in line with the projected growth of Taiwan’s economy, the president said, adding that the defense budget may even be increased by 3 percent if the need arises, according to Tsai Ming-yen.
In addition, a special reserve fund will be allocated for major military procurements, Tsai Ming-yen told reporters, citing the president, who is on the first leg of a state visit to three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific.
He said President Tsai made the pledge during a meeting in Honolulu on Saturday with James Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), after Moriarty urged her to heed the U.S.’ concerns about Taiwan’s comparatively small defense budget.
Noting that China’s military spending has been seeing double-digit growth each year, Moriarty warned President Tsai that such a trend could result in an even greater imbalance in military strength across the Taiwan Strait, according to Tsai Ming-yen.
In response, the president told Moriarty that Taiwan is drawing up a comprehensive plan to meet its long- and short-term military needs, particularly to strengthen its defense capabilities, Tsai Ming-yen said.
Taiwan’s military procurement budget for 2018, which has already been approved, is NT$83.3 billion (US$2.76 billion), lower than this year’s NT$88 billion, according to a China Times report. •
By Lu Hsin-hui and Flor Wang