Taiwan Extends Mandatory Military Service To One Year After ‘Largest Ever’ Chinese Incursion
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen has announced the extension of mandatory military service in the island nation from four months to a year, citing an increased threat from China.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, President Tsai said, "No one wants war...but my fellow countrymen...Peace will not drop from the sky... Taiwan is on the frontline of authoritarian expansion."
The changes will take effect from January 2024.
This decision follows Chinese intrusions into Taiwanese airspace on Monday, during which more than 71 planes and drones crossed the Taiwanese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), according to the Taiwan government. This is reportedly the largest intrusion into Taiwanese airspace by China so far.
Until the 1990s, Taiwan had compulsory military service of three years, which was shortened to a year, then 10 months, and finally to four months with the goal of becoming an all-volunteer force. However, the increased threats from China have prompted the Taiwanese government to increase the time limit back to a year.
The Chinese Communist Party claims all of Taiwan as Chinese territory, and experts believe a Chinese attack on Taiwan is a real possibility, especially in the context of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
These intrusions have intensified since Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan in August.
Taiwan, a mountainous island, may be difficult for China to fully capture, but there is a significant disparity between Chinese and Taiwanese forces.
In the event of an invasion, the disparity with China in terms of personnel and equipment will present a significant challenge for Taiwan. Taiwanese forces have a total strength of just over 165,000 active personnel, while China has more than one million personnel at its disposal.
The US has warned the Taiwanese government of the possibility of a Chinese invasion and is providing essential military equipment, such as F-16 fighters, SLAM cruise missiles, air-to-air missiles, and anti-tank Javelin missiles, to boost Taiwan's defensive capabilities.
The US adheres to the one-China policy but still maintains good relations with Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, which calls for the US to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself against Chinese bullying and aggression.
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