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Taiwan sets up task force to study Israel-Hamas war

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Taiwan’s government has condemned the Hamas attack, with President Tsai Ing-wen saying Taiwan remains “committed to working with like-minded countries to fight threats and violence and to safeguard freedom and democracy”.

Taiwan holds presidential and parliamentary elections in January, which the main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), has cast as a choice between war and peace. The KMT has accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of taking Taiwan to the brink of war by intentionally provoking China, which it strongly denies.

On Sunday, KMT chairman Eric Chu said what happened in Israel has “made everyone feel what it means to be threatened by war”.

“We believe that peace across the Taiwan Strait is what everyone expects. No Taiwanese wants to see war,” said Chu, whose party traditionally favours close ties with Beijing.

Senior DPP lawmaker Wang Ting-yu, responding on his Facebook page, criticised the KMT for not condemning China and its threats against Taiwan.

“These people are not pacifists; they have intentionally or otherwise become pawns of the aggressor,” Wang wrote.

Tsai has overseen a military modernisation program to bolster Taiwan’s defences.

Former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison told a forum in Taipei on Wednesday that with China’s threats against the island, it was important to strengthen Taiwan’s resilience but that Taiwan needed to do more itself.

“Such urgency must also be demonstrated by Taiwan itself. Israel is an even smaller nation than Taiwan and likewise lives under constant threat,” he told an audience that included Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. “But they spend considerably more proportionally on its defence than here in Taiwan.”

The overall defence budget proposed by the government for next year amounts to 2.5 per cent of Taiwan’s GDP. Israel’s amounts to 4.5 per cent for this year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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