Biden: Iain Duncan Smith on China’s ‘threats’ to Taiwan
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President Tsai Ing-wen announced a 10 percent increase in the defence budget this year, taking it to $16.89bn (£12.36bn). Beijing claims sovereignty over the island of Taiwan and has threatened force to reclaim what it considers to be a lost province.
The Taiwanese government didn’t say exactly what aircraft the new money is being assigned for, but there is speculation it will pay for American F16 fighter jets.
In 2019 the US approved the sale of $8bn (£5.8bn) worth of F16s to Taiwan.
This will give the island more than 200 of the high-tech aircraft, more than any other nation in Asia.
The new budget, including the additional spending on warplanes, must now be approved by the Taiwanese parliament.
Beijing increased its defence spending by 6.8 percent in 2020, as it seeks to close the gap with the United States.
Last week China held assault drills near Taiwan, and its military aircraft regularly violate Taiwanese airspace.
On August 25, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry, a Chinese Y-8 ASW transport plane entered Taipei’s airspace.
This brings the number of alleged airspace violations in August alone to 11.
On August 18, China sent six fighter jets, two bombers and three surveillance aircraft over Taiwan.
Local media outlet SET TV said the incursion also coincided with a US naval mission involving an EP-3E spy plane and P-8A anti-submarine aircraft near Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ and the Bashi Channel.
On June 15 Taiwanese airspace was violated by 28 Chinese warplanes, a new record.
Taiwan, formally the Republic of China, is controlled by the losing nationalist faction from China’s 1927-1949 civil war.
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However, the communist-ruled People’s Republic of China, which controls the entire mainland, has long sought to take the island.
Whilst the US hasn’t formally recognised Taiwan as an independent state, it remains a close ally and arms supplier to the Taiwanese.
Kamala Harris, the US vice-president, condemned Beijing’s behaviour during a recent visit to Singapore.
She insisted America “stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats”.
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Since coming to power the Biden administration has focused on the threat from China, and used this as an argument for its Afghan withdrawal.
Speaking to Express.co.uk Barbara Kelemen, from security intelligence firm Dragonfly, argued this differs from past administrations which focused on the Middle East.
She commented: “The current administration is responding to a lot of domestic issues, so a lot of focus has been on issues domestically.
“We are seeing more focus on China and Taiwan.
“That has become much more present when it comes to the overall strategic view from the Biden administration and clearly the focus is heading in that direction, as opposed to the Middle East.”
Beijing also claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, challenging rival bids from six of its neighbours.
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