TAIPEI: A colourful Taiwanese tycoon unveiled plans on Thursday to train more than three million “civilian warriors” to help defend the democratic island in the event of a Chinese invasion, donating $33 million of his own money.

Robert Tsao, 75, is one of Taiwan’s most successful businessmen and founded major microchip maker United Microelectronics Corp (UMC).

He has been increasingly outspoken against Beijing, and his donation comes after China’s military put on a huge show of force to protest US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last month.

Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory to be seized one day — by force if necessary.

For a week after Pelosi’s visit, China sent warships, missiles and fighter jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan, its largest and most aggressive exercises since the mid-1990s.

Tsao, who donned body armour for his announcement, warned it would be “an intentional slaughter and vicious war crime and crime against humanity” if China were to use force against Taiwan.

The tycoon said he would put TW$600 million towards training three million “black bear warriors” in the next three years who could work alongside the military.

Another TW$400 million will be used to train 300,000 “marksmen” with shooting skills.

Tsao, who no longer holds any position or title with UMC, portrayed the risk posed by China as existential.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2022

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