President Tsai promises sustained increase in defense spending

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In this Nov. 2, 2017 file photo, President Tsai Ing-wen interacts with media during her official state visit to the Solomon Islands. On Thursday, the president  reiterated her pledge to boost Taiwan’s defense budget by at least 2 percent per year in the future in an effort to build a capable defense force. (CNA)

HONIARA, The Solomon Islands (CNA) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday reiterated her pledge to boost Taiwan’s defense budget by at least 2 percent per year in the future in an effort to build a capable defense force.

“Although a fixed figure has not been set, we will increase the country’s military spending based on GDP growth over the previous three years,” Tsai said at a press conference in the Solomon Islands.

“If the need arises, the defense budget will be increased by 3 percent and a special reserve fund can be used for major military procurements,” she added.

The goal is to build a capable defense force that will integrate all branches of the military, said Tsai, who is on the final leg of a state visit to three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the South Pacific.

“It is extremely important to show our allies that we are determined to strengthen our defense capability,” she said.

In response to reporters’ questions about Taiwan’s arms procurement plans, Tsai said she will ask Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense to review the country’s military procurement priorities based on its short-, mid- and long-term needs.

The president is scheduled to return to Taiwan Nov. 4 via Guam, after completing her visit to the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands.

By Lu Hsin-hui and Flor Wang