The Taiwanese government has proposed a record military budget, but security experts warned the 14 per cent increase was not enough to meet its defensive needs in the face of a growing threat from mainland China. The government’s highest administrative body, the Executive Yuan, has agreed an annual budget of NT$2.7 trillion (US$90 billion) for next year, including NT$586.3 billion for defence. The figure is much higher than the NT$480 billion legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party had previously called for. Taiwan’s defence ministry said part of the budget – NT$108.3 billion of which was listed as special spending – would be used to pay for 66 F-16V fighter jets it had ordered from the United States and the rest of this spending would be used to help upgrade the air force and navy. It estimated that next year’s defence budget would account for 2.4 per cent of this year’s projected gross domestic product, up from 2.2 per cent the previous year. The ministry urged the public to support the increased defence budget, which it said was necessary in the face of Beijing’s sabre-rattling and repeated crossings of the median line in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan, Pelosi and PLA drills spur claims of salami tactics all round The budget proposal will be sent to the island’s legislative body to review before President Tsai Ing-wen signs it into law. The proposal came amid weeks of mainland Chinese military drills around Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island in early August. Pelosi is the highest-ranking US politician to visit since her predecessor Newt Gingrich in 1997. The move angered Beijing, which conducted drills near Taiwan involving both the air force and navy shortly after Pelosi left Taipei. In response Taiwan launched exercises to show its own combat capabilities. Beijing held more military drills last week in response to another US delegation of lawmakers visiting the island. Beijing sees the island as part of China and has never ruled out the use of force to take control of it. Most countries do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state but many, including the US and its allies, oppose any attempt to take the island by force. Tan Kefei, a spokesman for the defence ministry in Beijing, said on Thursday that the drills were necessary to defend China’s territorial integrity. “We warn the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan independence separatist forces that if they are obsessed with relying on foreigners and seeking independence provocations without repenting or stopping, we will continue to speak with actions and resolutely take countermeasures,” he told a press conference. Last year , Taiwan budgeted an extra NT$237.2 billion by 2026 to enhance its naval and air combat capabilities, by purchasing weapons such as anti-ship missiles and patrol boats. Tsai has vowed to modernise the island’s weapons systems. But some analysts have said it needs to spend more, including former US diplomat Richard Bush who has urged the island to raise taxes to fund the increase. Taiwan war games ‘just’ response to Pelosi visit, mainland official says Su Tzu-yun, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Defence and Security Research, a Taiwanese government think tank, said the proposed increase in military spending was “still somewhat below the reasonable level other countries would budget”. Su said the regular budget – excluding special spending – should be over NT$480 billion, but it currently stood at only NT$415.1 billion. He said more money should be spent on anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, which would enhance the island’s ability to wage asymmetric warfare. He also said non-military officials should be more involved in setting the defence budget. Chang Yen-ting, a retired Taiwanese air force lieutenant general, said the island must aim to spend at least 3 per cent of its GDP on defence to counter the growing threat from the PLA. “This [current] amount is still not enough as it only accounts for 2.4 per cent of our GDP,” Chang said, noting that the PLA’s budget was far higher than Taiwan’s. Max Lo, executive director of the Taiwan International Strategic Study Society, a Taipei-based think tank, said with the PLA sending more drones to Taiwanese-controlled offshore islands like Quemoy and Matsu, the military authorities must consider spending more on anti-drone systems.