- Taiwan's military budget reached a record high of NT$453.4 billion, ($15.4 billion), an increase of 10.2% year-on-year.
- Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded that "Taiwan independence" is a dead-end, and Taiwan spends taxpayers' money on defense.
- Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Chinese state media Global Times, said that the PLA could take Taiwan in one hour.
The situation in the Taiwan Strait continues to be tense. Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army has announced that it will conduct exercises at the north and south ends of Taiwan. Taiwan has also increased its defense expenditure by 10% in response to military threats and plans to purchase US cruise missiles.
Taiwan’s Executive Yuan passed the next year’s budget on Thursday and submitted it to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation. The overall defense expenditure reached a record high of NT$453.4 billion, ($15.4 billion), an increase of 10.2% year-on-year, accounting for local government in 2020. The gross product (GDP) is 2.4%.
“Our 23 million people have the right to determine our own futures, which is [the] antithesis to the position Beijing has taken,” said Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. “Upholding these principles requires us to be able to defend Taiwan against coercive actions. It entails backing up words with actions.”
The day before, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, Xiao Meiqin, revealed that he was discussing with the United States to purchase cruise missiles to respond to amphibious landings or raids by the PLA.
He also pointed out that Taiwan has actively invested in the military and recruited manpower to respond to cyber threats. “We will never stop believing that there can be a better future ahead where both sides can share in each other’s successes and accomplishments,” Tsai said.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded that “Taiwan independence” is a dead-end, and Taiwan spends taxpayers’ money on defense. “No matter how much it spends, as we all know, Taiwan is a small island. If it wants to fight against mainland China, it is like an ant trying to move a tree.”
After the Chinese fighter planes crossed the centerline of the Taiwan Strait during the US Secretary of Health’s visit to Taiwan, the PLA’s Eastern Theater District announced that it had recently conducted exercises in the Taiwan Strait, north and south sides of the Taiwan Strait and conducted “continuously organized actual combat drills” to further test and upgrade joint combat capability.
“Recently, some major powers have persisted in a negative trend on the Taiwan issue, sending a serious and negative signal to those Taiwanese independence forces and seriously threatening the safety and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” said Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesman of the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“The patrols and exercises by the command’s forces were a response to the security situation of the Taiwan Strait and a necessary measure to safeguard national sovereignty.”
Hu Xijin: Next is the Exercise Around the Island
Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Chinese state media Global Times, said that the exercise was a clear warning to “Taiwan independence,” and also showed that the People’s Liberation Army has the ability to take Taiwan in one hour.
“Today, [we] conducted drills at the north and south ends of Taiwan Strait,” Hu wrote online. “If Taiwan continues to drift further away tomorrow, then it will be war games at both ends of the Taiwan Strait and on Taiwan’s east coast. Then the next step will be PLA fighter jets flying over Taiwan island.”
He also criticized that when the US Secretary of Health visited Taiwan, the US military invited Taiwan troops to participate in the Circum-Pacific military exercise, which “together constitutes a trend for the US and Taiwan to upgrade their relations and take more dangerous steps.” He described this as a kind of “slicing sausage” to destroy the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.
“The US clearly wants to provoke us in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea – they clearly want to take action, action that is as big as possible,” said Yang Lixian, a research fellow at the Research Centre on Cross-Strait Relations in Beijing.
“China doesn’t want war, but we have our bottom lines, and if they cross our bottom lines, then we have no other choice. We will be as restrained as possible, so it depends on the US.”