Taiwan extending military service mandates amid tensions with China
Taiwan is extending military service mandates from four months to one year as tensions with China keep the island nation on edge.
Starting in 2024, men born after 2005 will be required to serve one year, while the four-month service requirement still applies to those born before that year, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced at a news conference on Tuesday.
Tsai also unveiled updated training for troops in an effort aimed at bolstering the nation’s defenses as threats from China escalate. She said “no one wants war” but Taiwan needed the capability to defend itself.
“Peace does not come from the sky, and Taiwan is at the front lines of the expansion of authoritarianism,” Tsai said.
Taipei’s announcement comes a day after China sent a record number of military aircraft into the self-governing country’s airspace.
More than half of the 71 warplanes flew over the median line in the strait that separates the two nations.
Taiwan has a military force of 188,000 members, 90 percent of which are volunteers, but most Taiwanese men are required to complete basic military service.
Before Tuesday, the required service length for men had gradually fallen from two years to four months.
A majority of Taiwanese in recent polls have supported upping the service length while also expressing doubt that Taiwan could defend itself from a major threat.
Beijing has conducted military drills for Taiwan on a near-daily basis in recent years.
Chinese leaders view the island nation as historically part of the mainland, although it split from Beijing in 1949.
In August, after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) traveled to the island in a show of support, Chinese forces shot missiles over Taiwan and sent ships and aircraft in its largest military drill in decades.
On Twitter, Tsai said the new service requirements and military training regimen was a response to a “changing security landscape.”
“On the frontlines of democracy’s defense, we are actively taking steps to uphold our nation’s sovereignty, values & interest in regional peace & stability,” she tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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