Taiwan’s military spending will rise 3.5% year-on-year to hit a fresh record high in 2024, president Tsai Ing-wen said as the island aims to improve defences amid a growing China threat. China views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory and has ramped up military and political pressure over the past three years. Taipei strongly rejects the claims.
The overall proposed defence budget which will need parliamentary approval, is T$606.8 billion ($19 billion)- 2.5% of the island’s GDP. This marks the seventh consecutive year in which Taiwan has increased its military spending but the rate of growth will be far slower than the 14% rise seen this year.
The budget will include a “special budget” for unspecified extra spending, president Tsai Ing-wen said.
“Taiwan must continue to strengthen its self-defence capabilities, demonstrate its determination for self-defence, ensure its national security and interests, and seek more international support,” she said. This comes as Tsai has overseen a military modernisation programme to make Taiwan better able to face China. The island has upgraded its fleet of F-16 fighter jets and is also developing its own submarines. The first prototype indigenous submarine of Taiwan was expected to be unveiled next month.
The spending increase is far less than the 7.2% rise China has proposed for its defence spending this year. Taiwan’s 3.5% rise is roughly in line with government predictions for overall GDP growth next year which is at 1.36%- its slowest pace in eight years.
“In the face of the challenges of slowing global economic growth and rapid changes in the international political and economic situation, I would like to ask the executive team to carefully plan based on sound finances, and be sure to properly allocate resources,” Tsai said.