Taipei: Taiwan has scaled back its military budget for 2010, officials said Tuesday, amid generally warming ties with its former bitter rival China.
Taiwan’s parliament, controlled by the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party, rubber-stamped a budget of 297.4 billion Taiwan dollars (9.3 billion US) for the defence ministry.
It is a 6.7 percent fall from the 318.6 billion dollar budget in 2009, the Cabinet-level Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said.
Ties between Taipei and Beijing have eased markedly since President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang was elected in March 2008 on a platform to boost trade with the mainland and to allow in more Chinese tourists.
Even so, Taiwan remains wary of China’s objectives, often citing more than 1,000 missiles lined up on its coastline facing the island.
The US Defense Department announced last week that it had approved the sale of Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan as part of a package passed by Congress more than a year ago.
The arms deal sparked strong protests from Beijing, who warned that the move would violate its security and severely undermine trust between the United States and Chinese militaries.
The United States is the leading arms supplier to self-ruled Taiwan, even though it switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
China has over the years repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence.
Beijing still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting to be reunified, by force if necessary, although the island has governed itself since 1949 at the end of a civil war.