Taiwan set to extend mandatory military service to one year after Beijing's Christmas 'strike drills'
Days after China's military said it had conducted "strike drills" around Taiwanese sea and airspace, Taiwan is set to announce its decision to extend the current four-month-long mandatory military service reportedly to a year. The longer service requirements may be implemented by soon as soon as 2024, Asia Nikkei reported, reflecting Taiwan's sense of urgency to bolster its defences amid China's ascending assertions for 'unification' with the island nation that Beijing claims as its own.
A report in Taipei-based 'Focus Taiwan' cited President Tsai Ing-wen's spokesperson Kolas Yotaka as saying that Taiwan's government will announce the decision on military service's extension on Tuesday, December 27.
As per the reported itinerary, President Tsai Ing-wen will first convene the meeting of Taiwan's National Security Council on Tuesday. Following which, she will meet with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's legislative caucus before holding the press briefing to announce the decision, Taiwanese presidential office spokesperson Xavier Chang said late Monday.
All Taiwanese men over 18 initially had to serve two to three years in the military as part of a conscription system adopted by Taiwan in 1949 in the events following the Chinese civil war.
After 1996, conscription was gradually reduced, reaching one year in 2008 and four months in 2018.
Taiwan-China tensions: Why extension of mandatory military service?
China sent 47 aircraft across the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, its largest incursion into Taiwan’s air defence zone in recent months. The Chinese incursions and military exercises have continued all through 2022, with tensions peaking in August after a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that prompted fury from the Chinese Communist Party.
Taiwan has active military personnel totalling about 170,000, nearly ten times less than mainland China. Taiwan reportedly estimates that 100,000 men will turn 18 each year, following which the self-governing island nation could ready up its defences during contingencies by increasing the mandatory military service.
An extension of military service up to one year requires no related law revisions, thereby, the government may comfortably implement the change.
The issue has been deliberated upon by the Ministry of National Defense and National Security Council for around two years as part of Taiwan's review of its "all-out defence" system.