Taiwan’s military budget is expected to swell to slightly over NT$400 billion (US$13.1 billion) by 2027 as the self-ruled island seeks to bolster its defence capability in the face of growing sumilitary expansion by Beijing. President Tsai Ing-wen’s government has listed US$11.34 billion for this year’s defence budget, up 5.6 per cent from 2018, compared with Beijing’s US$177.5 billion, which represents a 7.5 per cent growth on last year’s military spending. Taiwan’s unofficial ally, the US, has repeatedly asked the island to build up its defence capability through increased spending while, at the same time, military intimidation from the Chinese mainland has been on the rise. Military spokesman Chen Chung-chi told reporters on Monday the defence ministry had worked out an incremental 10-year budget aimed at breaking the NT$400 billion mark by 2027 and rising to NT$421.8 billion by 2029 to bolster the island’s defence capability and uphold the security of Taiwan. “This is based on our estimation,” Chen said, adding the increase was mainly intended to counter the growing threat from the mainland. Beijing sees Taiwan as a wayward province that must return to the Chinese fold, by force if necessary. It has stepped up pressure against the island since Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, became president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle. Five of Taiwan’s allies have been persuaded by Beijing to switch their diplomatic allegiance since 2016 and global companies which do business with Taiwan have been under pressure to change their designation of the island to a province of China. In addition to its soft power efforts, Beijing has staged a series of war games near Taiwan to threaten the island. On Monday, Taiwanese warplanes and military vessels shadowed a group of mainland fighter jets, including Sukhoi-30 and Jian-11, which flew by the island from the south coast of China on their way to military drills in the Western Pacific. Taiwan’s defence ministry said most of the PLA warplanes returned to the mainland after training. The fly-by came a fortnight after two mainland Jian-11 fighter jets crossed the “median line” dividing the Taiwan Strait, which separates the self-ruled island from the Chinese mainland. The action prompted a high alert from Taiwan’s military and an order by Tsai to immediately expel any mainland fighter jets if they strayed across the tacitly understood dividing line in future. Meanwhile, James Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy on the island, stressed that Taiwan must be able to defend itself against any military attempts by Beijing. The ability to defend itself was the island’s best deterrence strategy, he said. Moriarty made the comments during a seminar in Taiwan to mark the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, the US legislation which spells out Washington’s commitment to maintain trade ties with the island while supplying it with defensive weapons. Moriarty said if Taiwan and the mainland were to unify, the US would make sure that it happened without military intimidation. During the seminar, Taiwanese tycoon Terry Guo said that Taiwan should not have bought “old and expensive” weapons from the US. Instead, he said, the government should spend money on US technology to build up its own capability. Taiwan has recently sought to buy 66 F-16V fighter jets from the US, in addition to 108 M1A2 tanks, in a bid to boost its defence capability.