Taiwan Rejects Chances Of Arms Race With Beijing

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2018-03-06 HKT 19:20

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  • Taiwan army soldiers taking part in a war games. Taipei says it will be looking to domestic arms industry to face future challenges. File photo: AP

    Taiwan army soldiers taking part in a war games. Taipei says it will be looking to domestic arms industry to face future challenges. File photo: AP

Taiwan will look to its domestic arms industry as well as foreign suppliers to respond to the mainland's continuing military buildup, but has no interest in engaging in an arms race with its cross-strait rival, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.

The remarks from spokesman Chen Chung-ji came a day after Beijing announced an 8.1 percent rise in its military budget for this year to 1.1 trillion yuan, the world's second largest after the United States.

"Taiwan has no intention of getting involved in an arms race with China, or with neighbouring countries," Chen told reporters at a briefing.

"However, we expect to strengthen our capabilities in self-developing arms, including locally built vessels and aircraft, or even information and communication warfare."

Taiwan has few avenues for purchasing arms abroad apart from the United States, which despite only having unofficial ties with the self-governing island, is legally bound to ensure it has a credible defence.

Under President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan has also sought to reinvigorate its domestic arms industry including in building trainer aircraft and possibly ships and submarines.

Such foreign and domestic weapon systems aimed to "satisfy the needs of defensive warfare, and assure the security of Taiwan, as well as to maintain regional stability and peace", Chen said.

With the world's largest standing military of between 2 million and 2.3 million members, Beijing is preparing to launch its second aircraft carrier while integrating stealth fighters into its air force and fielding an array of advanced missiles able to attack air and sea targets at vast distances.

Taiwan's armed forces are far smaller, although the island has universal conscription and a pool of reserves nearly 3 million strong. Its commanders have sought to capitalise on the physical barrier posed by the 160-kilometre-wide Taiwan Strait to fend off any possible attacks. (AFP)