Taiwan extends compulsory military service as China ramps up pressure

Beijing, Dec 27 (EFE).- Taiwan’s compulsory military service will be extended from four months to a year starting in 2024, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, as China builds up sovereignty pressure on the self-ruled island.

Tsai held a high-level national security meeting before telling reporters that the decision to expand conscription was “extremely difficult” to take after “two years of evaluation.”

Taiwan has seen growing military pressure from China, which regularly organizes air raids on Taiwan’s Air Identification Zone (ADIZ) and holds war drills near the island.

Tsai said no one wanted war, “but my fellow countrymen, peace will not fall from the sky.”

“The current four-month military service is not enough to meet the fast and ever-changing situation,” she said.

She said the four-month mandatory service did not meet the current strategic needs of the island “given the advance of Chinese authoritarianism.”

Conscription for men over the age of 18 was reduced from 12 to four months in 2018. The extension will apply to men born after Jan. 1, 2005.

The president recalled the large-scale military exercises conducted by the Chinese army near the island in August after a controversial trip to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Taipei described the exercises that included live fire as “a blockade.”

Tsai said the military threat had become “more obvious.”

The Taiwanese defense ministry Monday reported that 71 planes and five Chinese war ships were in the vicinity of the island, with 47 of the aircraft crossing the so-called median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Among military planes crossing the median line were 12 J-11s, 18 J-16s, and six SU-30 fighters.

The military jets crossed the median line between 6 a.m. local time Sunday and 6 a.m. on Monday.

The median line is the de facto border between China and Taiwan.

The Chinese defense ministry said the military buildup was “a firm response to the current US-Taiwan escalation and provocation.”

Colonel Shi Yi, the spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement on Sunday night that the Chinese army was holding joint combat patrols and joint strike drills in the waters around Taiwan.

The United States Congress approved the so-called National Defense Authorization Act on Friday, allowing $816.7 billion in defense, energy, and national security. It includes military aid to Taiwan.

China considers the self-ruled island part of its territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary.

Beijing says the island is a breakaway Chinese province since the Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the communists.

Taiwan is one of the main sources of conflict between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taipei’s key arms supplier and could be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with China.

Related Articles

Back to top button