TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — David Helvey, the acting U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said Tuesday (Oct. 6) that Taiwan's recent military budget increase is "insufficient" to ensure effective defense against the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
In light of the growing threat from China, the Taiwanese government has increased its defense budget for fiscal 2021 to NT$453.4 billion (US$15.2 billion), an increase of more than 10 percent from this year. It is the largest-ever military spending budget the country has proposed.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has stressed the importance of increased military spending as well as closer security cooperation with the U.S. and other democracies to counter the PLA's saber-rattling in the Taiwan Strait. She said Taiwan is on the frontline of democracy and freedom after Beijing introduced a national security law to curtail Hong Kong's autonomy.
During an online defense industry conference hosted by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, Helvey noted that Taiwan's military budget boost is "a step in the right direction," but still not enough to ensure "resilient defense" against the PLA. He said Taiwan must continue to bolster its national defense through domestic development and foreign purchases while avoiding overspending in areas with limited return.
Helvey emphasized that despite the PLA's strong combat capabilities, it is not unbeatable. He believes smart investments are necessary for Taiwan to send a clear signal to Beijing about its determination to defend its sovereignty.
Helvey also said the U.S. encourages Taiwan to invest in "large numbers of small capabilities" that would warn Beijing its invasion would come at a significant cost. He added that Taiwan should enhance its reserve forces, which can provide essential support to the nation's defense, reported Reuters.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, David Helvey. (AP photo)