Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Monday defense spending would reach a record 606.8 billion Taiwan dollars ($19 billion) in 2024, a demonstration of the island’s “determination to ensure national security.”
Tsai said in a statement defense spending was “expected to reach 2.5 percent of the GDP,” The proposed spending would be a 3.5 percent increase from 2023’s $586.3 billion Taiwan dollars, according to official data.
“Taiwan must continue to bolster its capabilities to defend itself and demonstrate its self-defence determination to ensure national security and interests, while seeking more international support,” she said.
Democratic Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which views the island as its own territory to be taken one day.
Tsai was briefed by Premier Chen Chien-jen about the 2024 government budget, which will be released by the cabinet on Thursday and then submitted to parliament for approval.
Beijing has intensified its saber-rattling and ramped up political and economic pressure on Taiwan since Tsai, who views the island as independent, came to power in 2016.
The Chinese military launched massive military exercises last year after Nancy Pelosi, then-speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan, and again in April when Tsai transited through the United States.
China staged fresh drills around the island on Saturday, a day after Tsai’s deputy William Lai, also a frontrunner in the upcoming presidential election, returned from a visit to Paraguay with two stopovers in the United States.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said 45 warplanes had entered its air defense zone during the exercises, which also included nine Chinese vessels.