Vice defense minister urges U.S. arms sales amid rising China threat
Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Vice Defense Minister Chang Guan-chung (張冠群) on Monday urged the United States to continue providing Taiwan with weapons to meet its defense needs, in light of a growing military threat from China.
Addressing the annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, Chang said that over the past few months, aircraft from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) have been entering Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ), crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, and flying close to Taiwan's southwest coast.
"Those provocative actions are aimed at intimidating Taiwan and creating a new routine that gradually deviates from the norm in a bid to squash Taiwan's defense capabilities," he said at the forum, which was held via video conferencing.
The Chinese military has also been conducting exercises that simulate landing operations and conflict with enemy forces and has stepped up its psychological warfare and propaganda efforts to create divisions within Taiwan, Chang said.
In light of the growing threat from China, Chang said, he hoped the U.S. would consider "the unique operational environment and geographical features of the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan proper and provide us with weapons and equipment that meet our operational requirements."
This would allow Taiwan to "better manage the battlefield and increase the cost of an invasion of Taiwan, thus serving as a deterrent," he said.
While the Taiwan government is seeking to acquire defensive weapon systems from abroad, however, it is also fully cognizant of its own responsibility to safeguard the country and is expediting the development of indigenous weapon systems, Chang said.
In reflection of Taiwan's commitment to its self-defense, the government has increased its 2021 defense budget by an annual 4.4 percent to a record US$11.8 billion, he said.
Meanwhile, opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman and Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) also spoke at the conference, saying that his party believes in "peace through strength."
The KMT supports the government's efforts to boost Taiwan's defense capability so that Beijing will be compelled to weigh the consequences of using force against Taiwan, Chiang said.
At the same time, he said, the KMT is urging dialogue between the two sides to prevent war and is calling on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to take the initiative in that regard to avoid any cross-strait military confrontation.
The 19th U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, which opened at 9 p.m. Monday, is being held over two days in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual conference, which was launched in 2002, is usually held in September or October to facilitate dialogue between the two countries on Taiwan's national security needs, weapons procurement and military cooperation with the U.S.
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