TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan is planning to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets and will seek cutting-edge stealth aircraft from the United States in the face of a growing military threat from rival China, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
The announcement follows the release of this year's $11.4 billion defense budget, an increase of less than 1 percent from last year, reflecting strains on the government's finances resulting from a heavy entitlements burden and slowing growth in the high-tech, export-oriented economy.
That compares to China's 7 percent rise in defense spending, announced this week, bringing its defense budget to about $151 billion, the world's second largest after the United States.
In response, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told lawmakers that Taiwan is focusing on inexpensive but effective "asymmetric warfare" techniques to combat threats in the air and seas.
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