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Taiwan's defence spending up 1.8 % in past decade
Publication Date : 17-10-2012
Taiwan's defence spending has grown a mere 1.8-per cent over the past decade, the lowest increase among five Asian countries analysed in a recent study released by a US-based thinktank Monday.
The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report also shows that Taiwan's budget for defence personnel maintenance was high, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of spending.
The CSIS paper analyses the the five largest defence budgets in Asia: China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan between 2000 to 2011.
Over the past decade, the five Asian powers have increased military spending to levels among the highest in the world, with China leading the way, the CSIS report said.
Beijing has quadrupled its defence budget since 2000, it said, adding that India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have all increased their military spending significantly over the period.
That trend contrasts with the United States and European Union, whose defence budgets have been declining in recent years.
China's share of total spending has risen from about 20 per cent in 2000 to 40 per cent in 2011. Only the US spends more on defence: about US$670 billion this year, more than double the amount spent in 2001.
The CSIS study shows that of all countries analysed in this report, Taiwan has the smallest defence budget, which grew from US$8.3 billion in 2000 to US$10.1 billion in 2011. Overall, Taiwan's total defence spending has seen a 1.8-per cent growth.
The growth percentage is significantly lower than that of China (13.4 per cent), India (3.6 per cent), Japan (3.5 per cent) and the South Korea (4.8 per cent.)
Per-soldier spending increased in a similar fashion, growing in absolute terms from US$22,500 in 2000 to US$34,800 in 2011.
The decrease in Taiwan's force structure from roughly 370,000 to 290,000 caused this difference between total and per-soldier spending trends, the CSIS said.
The growth in total defence spending from 2007 onward was largely the result of increased expenditure on military personnel, which remains the largest category, accounting for at least a 50-per cent share of total spending up to 2006.
In the subsequent years, personnel spending ranged from a low of 37.9 per cent (2008) to a high of 47.5 per cent (2011).
Per-soldier spending grew at a faster pace, largely a result of significant troop reductions, it said.
Asked to comment on the report, military spokesman Luo Shou-he yesterday said the increase on personnel spending is inevitable for Taiwan's military as the nation is pushing for a transformation from compulsory to a full voluntary conscript system.
Taiwan has no intention to engage in an arms race with China, but will focus instead on making optimal use of its defence budget to build the nation's military into a small but well-trained force that is capable of defending itself, he added.