According to an armed forces report, Taiwan's military is prioritizing preparations for a "total blockade" by China in its defense spending this year. While China continues to stake its claim over the self-governing island, this action highlights the escalating tensions between the two countries.
In a report requesting parliamentary budget clearance, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters on Monday, Taiwan's defense ministry stated that it began evaluating its strategic fuel stocks and repair capabilities last year, but did not provide any other information.
In "anticipation of a total blockade of the Taiwan Strait," this year's investment will include the replenishing of artillery and rocket inventories, as well as the purchase of F-16 fighter parts "to strengthen combat continuity," according to the defense ministry.
China claims that Taiwan is a part of its territory, but Taiwan maintains that it is a separate, self-governing entity. The Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from mainland China, is considered international waters, and both sides have the right to navigate through it.
However, China does not have the right to unilaterally control or claim sovereignty over Taiwan or the Taiwan Strait. The issue remains a complex and contentious one in international relations.
Around 1,700 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone in 2022, according to the Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese armed forces. The Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan has called this a "substantial threat" to Taiwan's defense because it is more than double the amount from a year earlier.
The ministry claimed that China has been "normalizing" the no-navigation zones surrounding the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, and Taiwan Strait.
Tensions between China and Taiwan have been escalating in recent years, as China continues to assert its claim over the self-governing island. China has increased military activity in the Taiwan Strait, and has been pressuring countries to cut ties with Taiwan, including through its "One China" policy.
The U.S. has been closely involved in the issue, as it has longstanding security and economic ties with Taiwan. In recent years, the U.S. has increased military support for Taiwan, including by selling weapons and conducting joint military exercises. This has angered China, which sees U.S. involvement as interference in its domestic affairs.
The Biden administration has signaled its support for Taiwan, with U.S. officials calling Taiwan a "critical partner" and expressing concern over China's actions in the region. However, the U.S. also seeks to avoid a military conflict with China, and has emphasized the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes.
The issue remains a complex and sensitive one, with potential implications for regional and global stability.