Taiwan will extend compulsory military service to one year from four months from 2024 due to the rising threat the democratically governed island faces from its giant neighbor China, President Tsai Ing-wen said, Report informs referring to Reuters.
The move, which had been well-flagged, comes as China ramps up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan to assert its sovereignty claims, including almost daily Chinese air force missions near the island over the past three years.
Tsai said Taiwan wanted peace but needed to be able to defend itself.
“As long as Taiwan is strong enough, it will be the home of democracy and freedom all over the world, and it will not become a battlefield,” Tsai told a news conference announcing the decision to extend the conscription period, which she described as “incredibly difficult”.
The current military system, including training reservists, is inefficient and insufficient to cope with China’s rising military threat, especially if it launched a rapid attack on the island, Tsai added.
Chieh Chung, researcher at the National Policy Foundation, a Taipei-based think tank, estimated that the extension could add an extra 60,000 to 70,000 manpower annually to the current 165,000-strong professional force in 2027 and beyond.
Even after the extension, however, the period of service will still be shorter than the 18 months mandated in South Korea, which faces a hostile and nuclear-armed North Korea.