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Taiwan presents defense budget for 2018

Budget features item for purchase of U.S. weapons

Military rehearsing for the National Day parade in Taipei.

Military rehearsing for the National Day parade in Taipei. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Ministry of National Defense has drafted a budget for 2018 which raises defense spending by 1.9 percent to NT$327.8 billion (US$10.7 billion), a far cry from the 50-percent leap needed to reach 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, the Central News Agency reported Saturday.

The country’s defense spending now stands at 2 percent of GDP, or NT$321.7 billion (US$10.5 billion), but the government has predicted a raise in the light of grave threats.

A ministry report said a military conflict in the region could be a possibility, especially considering the heated verbal confrontation between North Korean communist leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump of the United States.

As before, Taiwan’s biggest threat was still listed as China, which is rapidly modernizing and expanding its military capabilities.

The budget plan for 2018 listed NT$3.2 billion (US$105 million) set aside to purchase new weapons from the U.S., a category not present in the 2017 budget, CNA reported. Earlier this year, the Trump Administration agreed to sell Taiwan US$1.42 billion (NT$43.1 billion) in arms.

Increases in other budget items include NT$53.1 billion for the local development and production of weapons, a rise of NT$11.9 billion from the previous year, NT$31.5 billion for logistics maintenance, and NT$2.6 billion to replace soldiers’ equipment, more than double the amount listed for this year.

Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬), a retired general, will present the budget report to the Legislative Yuan on October 11, according to CNA.