Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense announced on October 25 that the salaries of incoming soldiers could be doubled. The authorities hope to generate increased incentive for young people to enlist in the army and thus strengthen military bases in the event of an invasion by the Chinese communist regime.

Following the recent announcement, Taiwan is expected to more than double the monthly salary of the recruits, in the hope of making compulsory military service more attractive.

It is worth noting that currently the salaries of Taiwan’s military entrants are very low, falling well below the minimum income set by the government.

The low pay has reportedly discouraged many young men from volunteering for military service, and others trying to evade the draft, using ridiculous tactics such as weight gain or weight loss to be disqualified.

During a legislature meeting on October 24, some Taiwanese lawmakers recommended that the government should raise the monthly salary to nearly $800 to reflect the minimum wage range.

Finally, Taiwan’s General Bureau of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics said it might consider raising the amount to about $500.

Upon repeated inquiries received, Chiu Kuo-cheng, the island’s defense minister, said that the military does not have the authority to raise the salary of conscripts and that it is up to the government to do so.

He also mentioned that recruits did not need to pay for food or lodging, and that the military covered their health insurance. Implying that young enlistees have all their expenses covered in addition to receiving pay, however modest.

At the same time, it was announced that the government had moved forward with its plan to extend compulsory military service to at least one year.

Past governments of the Democratic Progressive Party and the main opposition Kuomintang had cut the originally two-year compulsory service to the current four months.

At the time those measures were taken to appease younger voters as tensions between Taipei and the Chinese communist regime had eased. But such measures ended up leading to a weakening of the island’s military bases and now the consequences are being paid for.

With one-year military service, and better pay, Taiwan hopes to better train soldiers to deal with mainland forces should war break out.

The plan to extend military service is expected to be finalized and announced after the local government elections on November 26.

Taiwan has gradually shifted from a conscript army to a professional force dominated by volunteers. But increasing pressure from the CCP against the island, as well as the Ukraine-Russia war, have sparked a debate on how to boost civilian defenses.

Tension with the Chinese regime increases

Following the 20th National Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress, which confirmed a third term for leader Xi Jinping, tensions continued to rise and rumors indicate that the CCP may accelerate plans to attack the island.

On October 16 Xi commented, “We will safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and take resolute measures to oppose ‘Taiwan independence’ and promote reunification. Resolving the Taiwan issue should be a matter for the Chinese.”

The CCP reshuffled its military leadership a day after the closing meeting of the Party congress, sparking intrigue over its future strategies.

During the last legislative session in Taiwan, lawmakers consulted with the defense minister on how the CCP’s changes in military command would affect Taiwan. 

Chiu responded with concern that the CCP’s new cadre of military leaders is made up of a younger crop of commanders who are more experienced in technology and combat and this “means that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will adopt a tougher strategy in dealing with Taiwan in the future.”

When asked if the PLA would become more hostile toward Taiwan, Chiu told lawmakers that while he expected the PLA to become more aggressive, it probably would not happen overnight. 

He also clarified that Taiwan’s armed forces are preparing on many different levels for an eventual offensive.

This is not the first time Taiwan’s defense minister has warned about the seriousness of the situation across the strait. On October 11, he stated that Taiwan considered Chinese drone incursions a “first strike.”

At the time, Chiu reminded lawmakers that Taiwan had initially determined that it would not fire first, but pointed out that the situation had changed, making it necessary to broaden the definition of “first strike.”

According to the minister, the drone incursion by the Chinese regime would have crossed a yellow line, should it cross the “red line,” “We will absolutely respond,” he said.

While Taiwan enjoys strong support from Western military powers, mainly the United States, it is also concerned about its own defense capabilities. 

In addition to the policies being implemented by the government to improve its national security, some private initiatives have emerged, such as that of a Taiwanese businessman who owns the semiconductor company United Microelectronic Corp, Robert Tsao. He announced in front of the media his intention to donate $32 million for the creation of an armed civilian force.

Tsao, 75, explained that the purpose of the donation was to train 3 million people in the use of weapons and turn them into warriors. Whatever their role in society – parents, workers, students – they would all be given the chance to defend the island against a possible invasion by the CCP. His idea also includes the selection of 300,000 people to create a sniper corps.

Concerns about a CCP invasion became more noticeable after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and especially after the visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

From that moment on, threats from regime officials and demonstrations of military might have increased steadily.

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