Taiwan extends military conscription to one year, citing growing threat from China

TAIPEI—Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday that compulsory military service will be extended from four months to one year from 2024 amid growing threats facing democratically-ruled Taiwan from its giant neighbor China. .

The move reflects the CCP regime’s use of military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan to assert its sovereignty claims, including carrying out Chinese air force missions near the island on an almost daily basis for the past three years. This happens when you are increasing the

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims the island as its own despite Taiwan being a de facto independent country with its own military, democratically elected government and constitution. doing.

Tsai said Taiwan wants peace but needs to be able to defend itself.

“As long as Taiwan is strong enough, it will become the home of democracy and freedom around the world, not a battlefield,” Tsai said at a press conference. “It’s incredibly difficult.”

The current military system, including the training of reservists, is ineffective in dealing with the CCP’s growing military threat, especially if the CCP launches a rapid attack on the island. added Tsai.

“Taiwan wants to tell the world that between democracy and dictatorship, we firmly believe in democracy. Between war and peace, we insist on peace.” Show your courage and determination to defend your country and defend your democracy.”

Conscripts undergo more rigorous training, including shooting exercises, combat instruction used by the U.S. military, and the operation of more powerful weapons such as the Stinger anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, Tsai said.

Taiwan has complained this year of delays in deliveries of US weapons, including the Stinger, but Tsai said the situation is improving after talks with the US.

taiwan flag
The Taiwan flag at the Taiwan Ministry of Defense in Taipei, Taiwan, December 26, 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

The de facto US Embassy in Taiwan welcomed the announcement on conscription reform.

“The United States’ commitment to Taiwan and the steps taken by Taiwan to strengthen its self-defense capabilities contribute to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” said the Institute of American Studies in Taiwan.

Taipei, which rejects the Chinese Communist Party’s sovereignty claims over Taiwan, reported on Monday the largest-ever Chinese air force intrusion into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, with 43 Chinese planes crossing the unofficial buffer zone between the two sides. rice field.

The Chinese Communist Party held military exercises near Taiwan in August after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.

extension of conscription

The Taiwanese government says only the people of Taiwan can decide their future.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said at the same press conference that the conscripts would be tasked with protecting critical infrastructure, allowing the regular military to respond more quickly in the event of an attempted invasion by the Chinese Communist Party.

Chieh Chung, a researcher at the National Policy Foundation, a Taipei-based think tank, said the extension would add 60,000 to 70,000 personnel annually from 2027 onwards to its current strong professional force of 165,000. We estimate that it may be

But even after the extension, it remains shorter than the 18 months mandated in South Korea in the face of a hostile, nuclear-armed North Korea.

Tsai oversees an extensive modernization program and champions the idea of ​​”asymmetric warfare” to make the island’s military more mobile, agile and harder to attack.

Although the United States has been pressuring Taiwan to modernize its military like an agile and hard-to-attack “porcupine,” Tsai said there was no pressure from Washington for these reforms.

Increased attacks on the island by the Chinese Communist Party and the war in Ukraine have sparked debate within Taiwan on how to strengthen its defenses.

Tsai said “some things” that went into Taiwan’s defense reforms learned from that war, noting that Ukraine’s ability to hold off a larger Russian force gave the international community time to provide assistance. did.