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Opposition queries budget cuts to defense spending

TAIPEI--Opposition lawmakers voiced concern Sunday over Taiwan's decreasing defense budget as the island forges closer ties with Beijing, saying it showed the government's ignorance of the perceived Chinese threat.

Taiwan's defense ministry has slashed spending in recent years, proposing to set aside NT$314.5 billion (US$10.5 billion) for next year, compared with NT$317.2 billion in 2012.

China, on the other hand, has been increasing its military spending by double digits for most of the past decade as its economy, now the world's second largest, grew at a rapid pace.

In 2012 alone, its military budget will rise 11.2 percent to 670.27 billion yuan (US$106.41 billion).

“The Ma Ying-jeou administration has kept scaling back its military spending even though China's threat to Taiwan has been on the rise the past few years,” said the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party legislator Hsiao Bi-khim.

“Ma had told voters during his election campaigns that the military spending would count for 3 percent of the gross domestic production. That goal has never been reached,” she told AFP.

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