Taiwan billionaire vows to train civilian army, pledges $32 million to fight China
A retired tech billionaire in Taiwan hopes to create a civilian army, three million large, in addition to pledging $32 million in hopes of countering China’s defense might.
Showing off a new Taiwan identity card, Robert Tsao announced the ambitious task after giving up his Singapore passport, the BBC reported on Thursday.
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The retired Tsao said he aims to train a seventh of the country’s 23.5 million population within three years, including 300,000 sharpshooters, according to the British broadcaster’s report.
Tsao, who was born in China and raised in Taiwan, made his wealth through his ownership of the United Microelectronics Corp semiconductor company.
Now, he is among many who fear a Chinese invasion.
A part of the amount he has pledged will go toward critical military drone defense development.
“Fighting a war today, like what we see in Ukraine, is not a comparison of numbers of soldiers or numbers of tanks. It’s pretty much a war decided by intelligence,” Tsao was quoted as saying by the BBC.
China mounted military exercises around Taiwan in August to express its anger at a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and it has maintained its military activities since then, though at a scaled-back pace.
Taiwan is bolstering its defenses in the face of the stepped-up China activity, and navy commander Chiang Cheng-kuo told Reuters that includes a new generation of destroyer given that its fleet of 26 main warships was on average 20 to 30 years old.
Chenh said China’s military threats had coalesced support from the United States and its allies for Taiwan to ensure what happened to Ukraine would not be repeated across the Taiwan Strait.
This will enhance Taiwan’s ability to deal with China and deter “their plots to attack Taiwan,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
China claims democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, but Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s people can decide their future.
China has proposed a “one country, two systems” model for Taiwan, similar to the formula under which the former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
All mainstream Taiwanese political parties have rejected that proposal and it has almost no public support, according to opinion polls.
China has also never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, and in 2005 passed a law giving the country the legal basis for military action against Taiwan if it secedes or seems about to.
Taiwan’s government says that as the island has never been ruled by the People’s Republic of China, its sovereignty claims are void.
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