More Budget Sought for F-16 Upgrades
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense announced plans September 7 to raise the budget for upgrading the air force’s fleet of U.S.-procured F-16 multi-role combat aircraft from NT$129.6 billion (US$4.21 billion) to NT$140.2 billion (US$4.56 billion). The fleet of 115 F-16 jets is being upgraded by Lockheed Martin from the current A/B standard to the advanced F-16V version, and the added budget will mostly go towards boosting the number and types of air-to-air missiles carried by the jets to maintain parity with China’s rapidly advancing military. Following the crash of an F-16 during the Hang Kuang military exercises last June, the added budget will also pay for ground collision avoidance systems.
Texas Gun Fanatic Flees to Taiwan
A man at the center of a debate over the right to disseminate plans for 3D printed guns was deported from Taiwan on September 22 after the U.S. Marshalls issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of sexual assault of a minor in Austin, Texas and the American Institute in Taiwan revoked his U.S. passport to prevent him from fleeing. Cody Wilson, 30, had been in Taiwan for a little over two weeks when he was apprehended by Taipei police. Wilson is described by Wikipedia as an “American crypto-anarchist, free-market anarchist, and gun-rights activist, best known as a founder/director of Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization that develops and publishes open source gun designs, so-called ‘wiki weapons’ suitable for 3D printing and digital manufacture.” He reportedly entered Taiwan on September 6 after learning of the investigation into the sexual assault.
Increased Funding for Cybersecurity
The Executive Yuan reportedly is planning to spend more than NT$1.6 billion (US$51.1 million) next year to protect government websites and databases that have been frequently targeted by Chinese hackers. The sites include those of the Presidential Office, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Security Bureau. Government sources say that over 23 million assaults were thwarted last year alone. According to local media reports, the budget will go toward enhancing digital infrastructure as well as developing local cybersecurity talent and systems.
In related news, the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau announced that it had “unequivocal evidence” that China was mounting a campaign of disinformation, or “fake news,” to disrupt local elections next month and foment internal social discord. The disinformation campaign includes planting false stories in online news forums and assigning Chinese moles to participate in online forums to twist discussions toward Beijing’s perspective while delegitimizing local views. Media reports indicate that the government is considering amending the National Security Act to counter the spread of fake news.