Taiwan says defense spending should focus on preparing for “total blockade” by China

By Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s defense spending this year will focus on preparing weapons and equipment for a “total blockade” by China, including parts for F-16 fighters and weapon supplies, the military said in a report.

China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory, held war games around the island in August, firing missiles over Taipei and declaring no-fly and no-sailing zones in a simulation of how it would try to cut off Taiwan in a war.

In a report seeking approval of the parliamentary budget, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters on Monday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it began reviewing its strategic fuel reserves and repair capabilities last year, but did not provide details.

In “anticipation of a total blockade of the Taiwan Strait,” spending this year would include stockpiling artillery, missiles, and parts for F-16 fighters “to strengthen combat continuity,” the ministry said.

In an update on its China threat assessment, the ministry said China’s military has been conducting joint force operations to control strategic bottlenecks and deny access to foreign forces.

“Recently, the exercise and training model of the communist military has been adapted from a single military type to joint operations by land, sea, air and missile forces,” said the report, which was published ahead of the legislation by Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng was issued. Questions in Parliament on Wednesday.

“It takes an actual war approach, shifting from training to combat preparation.”

China’s Bureau of Taiwan Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China has never refrained from using force to seize control of Taiwan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday China must modernize its military to make it a “Great Wall of Steel.”

Xi also said that regarding Taiwan, China must reject independence and secessionist activities and interference from external forces.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said China has systematically increased the strength of its “joint combat readiness” actions across Taiwan.

The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command sent more than 1,700 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone last year. That’s more than double the previous year’s figure and poses a “significant threat” to Taiwan’s defenses, the ministry said.

China has “normalized” no-shipping zones around the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea and Strait of Taiwan, the ministry added.

China hopes to improve its capabilities to invade the “second chain of islands,” which spans an area from Japan to the Pacific Islands, and “choke and control” the Bashi Canal, Miyako Strait and Tsushima Strait It said three waterways provide vital access to the Pacific and East China Seas.

The ministry said China has also continued to use “grey area” tactics to test Taiwan’s response, including dispatching drones, balloons and fishing boats to areas near Taiwan.

The department also said it will prioritize funding this year for key US-made weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) mobile rocket launchers.

(This story has been refiled to correct a typo in the title.)

(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard. Editing by Gerry Doyle)


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