Taiwan on Thursday unveiled plans to increase its military budget by 13.9% after China launched its largest-ever military exercises around the island that were a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
The 13.9% increase was signed off by Taiwan’s cabinet and still needs to be approved by the island’s parliament. The increase would bring the total military budget to about $19.41 billion, which will represent 15% of the government’s annual budget.
The new military spending includes funding for fighter jets and other equipment. The budget boost will likely benefit US arms makers as Taiwan often purchases US weapons and maintains a fleet of F-16 fighter jets.
Chu Tzer-ming, Taiwan’s cabinet’s chief budget official, said that most of the funding will go toward operations as the island is responding to heightened Chinese military activity in the region as a result of Pelosi’s visit.
“The budget for maintaining operations saw the biggest increase among the defense-spending categories this year in response to the cross-strait situation,” Chua said. “Warplanes need to take off and warships need to go to sea, which all lead to higher expenses.”
The US has shown no sign of easing tensions with China over the Taiwan situation as congressional delegations continue to visit the island. Sen. Marsha Blackburn arrived in Taipei on Thursday, the fourth visit to the island from US officials in August alone. China is strongly opposed to these trips because, from Beijing’s perspective, it signals that the US is moving away from the one-China policy.