Taiwan's defense budget this year will focus on preparing weapons and equipment as it braces for an escalation of tensions with China.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said in a report seeking legislative budget approval that it began reviewing the self-ruled island's strategic fuel reserves and repair abilities in 2022, Taipei Times reported.
It gave an update on its threat assessment from China, saying in the report that the Chinese military has been conducting joint force operations with the aim of controlling strategic choke points around Taiwan and denying access to foreign forces.
"Recently, the Communist military's exercise and training model has been adjusted from a single military type to joint operations of land, sea, air and rocket forces," the Taiwanese defense ministry said in the report.
"It is adopting an actual war approach and shifting from training to combat preparation," it added.
The Taiwanese defense ministry noted that China has increased the strength of its "joint combat readiness" actions around the island while "normalizing" no-navigation zones in waters near Taiwan.
The ministry also accused China of using "gray zone" tactics to test Taiwan's response by sending drones, balloons and fishing boats close to the island.
The growing Chinese threats have pushed the Taiwanese ministry to anticipate a "total blockade" of the Taiwan Strait.
The ministry said in the report that defense spending this year will include the replenishment of artillery and rocket stocks as well as parts for F-16 jets.
According to Taiwan's defense ministry, it is also looking to prioritize funding for U.S.-made weapons, such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System mobile rocket launchers, to upgrade the island's capability to deter Chinese attacks.
In the first speech of his unprecedented third term as China's leader, President Xi Jinping emphasized modernizing the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the ruling Communist Party, to safeguard the country's interests.
"[We must] build the People's Liberation Army into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security, and development interests," Xi told the delegates of the National People's Congress (NPC), CNN reported.
Xi also said that China should "firmly oppose interference" of forces advocating for Taiwan's independence while calling for advancing the reunification process with the island.
China increased its defense budget by 7.2% this year, marking the eighth consecutive year of single-digit percentage point increases. For 2023, the Chinese military's budget is 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion).
China's move to modernize its military is a clear sign that the Asian country is "deadly serious" about invading Taiwan, according to Wisconsin GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher, the chair of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party.
Gallagher urged the Biden administration to hasten military equipment sales to Taiwan and pour more resources into the Indo-Pacific Command to deter any Chinese aggression against the island.
Taiwan-China tensions began in 1949 when the island split from mainland China after a bloody civil war. Since then, China has not recognized the island's independence.