Taiwan Prolongs Mandatory Military Service Period Over China Threat:
Taiwan Prolongs Mandatory Military Service Period Over China Threat
TAIPEI: Taiwan extends the period of mandatory military service for all eligible men from four months to a year amid rising threats from China. President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen announced the extension citing the threat from an increasingly hostile China. She made the announcement at a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday following a high-level government meeting on national security.
President Ing-wen told a press conference that China’s “intimidation and threats against Taiwan are getting more obvious.” She said four months of mandatory military training can “no longer suit the needs” of Taiwan’s defense. “We have decided to restore the one-year military service from 2024.” The extended requirement will apply to men born after January 1, 2005, Tsai added.
She added that extending the service period was a “difficult decision,” but considered it essential for the continuation and safeguarding of the island’s democratic way of life. In her address she said “No one wants war… but my fellow countrymen, peace will not fall from the sky. We can only avoid a war by preparing for a war and we can only stop a war by being capable of fighting a war.”
Mandatory service used to be deeply unpopular in Taiwan. Its previous government had reduced it from one year to four months with the aim of creating a mainly volunteer force. But recent polling showed more than three-quarters of the Taiwanese public now believes that is too short.
Taiwan and China split at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Since then the island nation of Taiwan lives under the constant fear of a Chinese invasion. Where Beijing considers self-ruled, democratic Taiwan a part of its territory, to be taken one day, by force if necessary. China’s sabre-rattling has intensified in recent years under President Xi Jinping. On the other hand Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further deepened Taiwan woes.
While Tsai has said becoming a part of China is not acceptable to Taiwan, Xi has made clear that the “reunification” of Taiwan cannot be passed on to future generations. The prospect of a Chinese invasion has increasingly worried Western nations and many of China’s neighbours.