Taiwan Extends Mandatory Military Service

Taiwan Pres. Tsai Ing-wen announced Tuesday that the country's current four-month mandatory military service for male citizens will be extended to a full year in 2024, citing national security concerns to justify what she described as a "difficult" decision.

Taiwan Extends Mandatory Military Service
Image credit: Reuters [via CNN]

Facts

  • Taiwan Pres. Tsai Ing-wen announced Tuesday that the country's current four-month mandatory military service for male citizens will be extended to a full year in 2024, citing national security concerns to justify what she described as a "difficult" decision.
  • A series of reforms to the military structure were also disclosed Tuesday, including dividing it into four main categories. The main combat force – made up of professional soldiers – will be responsible for territorial security, while conscripts will join the garrison force to protect key infrastructure inside Taiwan.
  • Tsai stated that the current military system is inefficient and insufficient to counter Beijing's apparent military threat, while more than three-quarters of the Taiwanese people reportedly believe that four months of mandatory military service is too short.
  • This announcement comes a day after Taiwan's defense minister reported that 71 Chinese aircraft had entered the island's self-declared air defense identification zone — some of which extends over mainland China — within 24 hours on Monday, the largest reported incursion to date.
  • Tensions have mounted in the Taiwan Strait to levels not seen in decades following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August, which prompted the People's Liberation Army to fire missiles and conduct military exercises in response.
  • Taiwan, whose 188k-person military is mostly comprised of volunteers, split from mainland China in 1949 during a civil war. However, Beijing has long claimed the self-ruled island as part of its territory.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, CNN, Al Jazeera, Guardian, Washington Post, and NPR Online News.

Narratives

  • Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. Extending mandatory military service won’t reduce the gap between forces in the Taiwan Straits, and it’s unlikely to improve the island's combat capacity. Taipei, however, has decided to follow this path under the irresistible pressure of the US, a disgraceful move that will turn the Taiwanese people into frontline pawns to advance US strategic interests against China.
  • Anti-China narrative, as provided by Focus Taiwan. Conscription reform, along with other structural reforms to Taiwan's military, is crucial to enhance deterrence in the Taiwan Straits, as Beijing seeks to undermine the international order, as well as regional peace and stability. This move increases Taiwan’s national security by demonstrating its commitment to self-defense, and also wins it international support.

Predictions