Taiwan's Military to Get Giant Boost From Billionaire

Robert Tsao says he'll fund training of 3.3 million civilian 'warriors' in 3 years
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2022 12:06 PM CDT
Taiwan's Military to Get Giant Boost From Billionaire
In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (in white) visits a naval station on Penghu, an archipelago of several dozen islands off Taiwan's western coast, on Aug. 30, 2022.   (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense via AP)

A Taiwanese tycoon says he's donating a billion Taiwan dollars, or about $32 million, to train an army to fight against a Chinese invasion. Wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet to signify what he said was a growing threat to Taiwan from the Chinese Communist Party, Robert Tsao—founder of microchip maker United Microelectronics Corp—appeared at a Thursday press conference to announce the funds to be donated to the civilian defense organization Kuma Academy. He said they would allow for the training of 3.3 million people in three years, per the Guardian. He said 60% of the funds would go toward training 3 million "warriors," while 40% would go toward training 300,000 sharpshooters. Tsao previously announced a $100 million donation to Taiwan's defense department.

"If we can successfully resist China’s ambitions, we not only will be able to safeguard our homeland but make a big contribution to the world situation and the development of civilization," said the 75-year-old, who once supported unifying Taiwan and China and renounced his Taiwanese citizenship. (It's now restored.) He told Radio Free Asia that China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement changed his mind. He also cited "the Chinese Communist party's record of atrocities against its own people and its brutal domination of those like the Uyghurs," per Bloomberg. His announcement came on the same day Taiwan's defense ministry said it had for the first time shot down a Chinese drone over Taiwan's Kinmen Islands off the Chinese mainland.

This comes as China has been increasing its military activities near Taiwan. Taiwan's military tracked 444 flights in its air defense identification zone—which includes the island, most of the Taiwan Strait, and a section of Chinese territory—in August, which is "more than twice the previous record of 196 flights set last October," per Voice of America. Of those, 300 crossed the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait. Only 23 Chinese flights crossed that line between September 2020 and July 2022, per VOA. Some experts say this is China's way of narrowing Taiwan's authority and asserting Chinese sovereignty over its territory. Others see it as "a dress rehearsal for an invasion of Taiwan," per Politico. The island counts fewer than 90,000 soldiers, per the Guardian. (More Taiwan stories.)

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