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South China Sea conflict: Taiwan passes additional $8.6 billion defense spending bill

Official Photo by Wang Yu Ching / Office of the President / Wikimedia Commons

In the midst of growing tensions with China, Taiwan has been bolstering its military defenses. The Taiwanese parliament recently passed an additional $8.6 billion defense spending bill as the island nation prepares to defend itself in a potential invasion.

This week, the Taiwanese parliament passed a defense spending bill investing an additional $8.6 billion in its latest effort to bolster the island nation’s defenses against China. The legislation passed with unanimous support Tuesday, with the price tag adding to the $17 billion budget allocated for 2022.

The additional funds are to obtain precision missiles and mass-manufacture naval ships in a short amount of time to boost the air and sea capabilities of the island nation. The budget already includes a coastal anti-ship missiles system, a locally-made Wan Chien or “Ten Thousand Swords” cruise missile, an attack drone system, and an installation of combat systems on coast guard ships.

China has been engaging in a pressure campaign against the democratically governed Taiwan to submit to Beijing’s authority. China has repeatedly made incursions into Taiwan’s airspace as part of the pressure campaign. This has also led to fears that Beijing may decide to invade the island nation through military means.

Despite concerns of a possible invasion, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry’s previous assessment found that a full-scale invasion by China into Taiwan would be difficult to achieve. The assessment found that this was because of difficulties in landing and the supply of troops.

Meanwhile, Taipei has gifted European Union member country Lithuania $1 billion through a Taiwanese credit program to help fund projects with Lithuanian companies. The program will support company links in six categories.

This follows the backlash Lithuania has received from China after it opened a de facto Taiwan embassy in November 2021. In an effort to further increase its trade links, Taiwan has been reaching out to other countries.

“The investment and credit funds will help us strengthen the cooperation,” said Taiwan’s National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-Hsin.

The $1 billion credit program adds to a separate $200 million fund that Taiwan has announced to invest in Lithuanian industries to bolster bilateral cooperation.

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