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Taiwan will extend length of compulsory military service amid growing pressure from China | World News

Taiwan is preparing to extend the length of compulsory military service from four months to one year, according to a senior government official.

The official told Reuters news agency that the change was among a number that would be discussed at a national security meeting later today.

The meeting, called by Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, is expected to look at ways to boost the island’s defence capability in the face of growing pressure from China.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen gives a speech on National Day in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen

Reuters’ source said: “China’s various unilateral behaviours have become a major concern for regional security.”

Changes will come into effect in 2024, the official said, and they would also include tougher training for conscripts, combat instruction used by US forces and more rigorous shooting exercises.

Ms Tsai’s office confirmed the meeting and that she would announce measures in a news conference shortly afterwards, but Taiwan’s defence ministry declined to comment.

Taiwan’s defence priorities were different when tensions appeared to be easing – compulsory military service was cut from two years to four months to appeal to younger voters, while the military itself moved gradually from a conscript force to a professional one.

But China has stepped up its military harassment of the island over recent years and Ms Tsai’s security team has been reviewing Taiwan’s military since 2020.

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On Monday, more than 70 Chinese aircraft ventured into Taiwan’s air defence zone – China’s largest incursion yet.

China also staged military drills near Taiwan in August, in response to a visit to Taipei by then-US house speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Chinese government claims democratic Taiwan must return to China, and has stepped up its military harassment of the island in recent years.

But Taiwan rejects China’s claims of sovereignty.

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