Taiwan defence minister pushes new arms spending, says China tensions worst in four decades

TAIPEI, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Military tensions with China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s defence minister said on Wednesday, promoting a new arms spending package to lawmakers days after record numbers of Chinese aircraft flew into the island’s air defence zone.

Tensions have hit a new high between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratic island as its own territory, and Chinese military aircraft have repeatedly flown through Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, though no shots have been fired and the planes have stayed away from mainland Taiwan.

Over a four day period beginning last Friday, Taiwan reported close to 150 Chinese air force aircraft entered its air defence zone, part of a pattern of what Taipei calls Beijing’s continued harassment of the island. Just one incursion was reported on Tuesday.

Asked by a lawmaker on the current military tensions with China at the parliament, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the situation was “the most serious” in more than 40 years since he joined the military, adding there was a risk of a “misfire” across the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

“For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me,” he told a parliamentary committee reviewing an extramilitary spending plan worth T$240 billion ($8.6 billion) over the next five years for home-made weapons including missiles and warships.

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Source: Reuters