Taiwan will announce a plan on Tuesday to extend conscription to one year from four months, a senior government official said, as the island faces mounting Chinese military pressure.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen convened a national security meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss strengthening the island’s civil defense and will announce the expansion at a press conference in the afternoon, the source added. He declined to be identified because the information had not yet been publicly announced.

Taiwan’s defense ministry declined to comment, although Tsai’s office had said on Monday that she would hold a national security meeting and a press conference on Tuesday on the new civil defense measures.

Tsai’s security team, which includes senior members of the Defense Ministry and the National Security Council, has been reviewing Taiwan’s military system since 2020 in the face of growing threats from China, according to the senior official.

Taipei, which rejects Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan, on Monday denounced the largest-ever raid by Chinese air forces on the island’s air defense identification zone, with 43 Chinese planes crossing a buffer zone. unofficial between both parties.

China also hosted war games near Taiwan in August, following a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“China’s various unilateral behaviors have become a major concern for regional security,” said the official, who participated in the high-level debate on security.

Under the plans that will take effect in 2024, recruits will receive more intense training, which will include shooting exercises, combat instruction used by US forces, and handling of more powerful weapons, such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles, the source explained. .

The conscripts would be tasked with guarding key infrastructure, allowing regular forces to respond more quickly in the event of any attempted invasion by China, they added.

Chieh Chung, a researcher at the National Policy Foundation, a Taipei-based think tank, estimated that the expansion could add 60,000 to 70,000 more troops a year to the current professional force of 165,000 in 2027 and beyond.

However, even after the extension, the tour of duty will still be less than the 18 months required in South Korea, which is facing a hostile and nuclear-armed North Korea.

Tsai is overseeing a vast modernization program, championing the idea of “asymmetric warfare” to make the island’s forces more mobile, agile and difficult to attack.

The Central News Agency, citing government and ruling party sources familiar with the matter, first reported late on Monday that the Taiwan government would announce its plan to expand conscription.

Taiwan has gradually transitioned from a conscript army to a professional force dominated by volunteers, but China’s growing assertiveness towards the island it claims as its own, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have sparked debate over how to bolster the defense. Russia describes the war as a “special operation”.

Taiwan’s previous governments of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the main opposition Kuomintang cut mandatory male service from more than two years to four months to appeal to younger voters as tensions eased. between Taipei and Beijing.

Reuters has reported that military training in Taiwan, particularly for conscripts and reservists, had deteriorated.

In recent years, China has stepped up diplomatic, military and economic pressure on the autonomous island to make it accept Beijing rule. The Taiwan government claims that only the Taiwanese can decide their future and vows to defend itself if attacked.

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