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Esper praises Taiwan’s extended military service

Reporter Vivian Hsiao
Release time:2023/07/18 18:07
Last update time:2023/07/18 18:07
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TAIPEI (TVBS News) — TVBS commentator Wenchi Yu discussed Taiwan's one-year conscription service on Monday (July 17) with former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

During his visit last year, Esper recalled advising President Tsai Ing-wen to increase Taiwan's military budget and lengthen the conscription service from 4 months to a year. He pointed out that President Tsai announced a nearly 15% increase in the defense budget soon after and resumed the one-year mandatory military service.

 

"Washington has made a commitment to Taiwan going all the way back to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979," he told TVBS Meeting Room, stressing that if Taiwan wished to garner the full support of the American people beyond the act, then he believes Taiwan should do everything it can to show that the Taiwanese people are committed to their self-defense.

The former U.S. Secretary of Defense explained that this ultimately means demonstrating a willingness to "sacrifice," with young people undergoing extensive training in the military service and spending more on boosting the nation's defense.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu seemed to agree with Esper's statement, pointing out that considering the military threat from across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan cannot sit idle and expect support from other countries should an attack occur.
 

"When China is increasing its military threat, we have to think about ways to increase our defense capabilities, and lengthening the conscript period is just one of them," Wu said.

With the 2024 presidential election coming up in Taiwan, political figures and presidential hopefuls have also shared their views on the conscription service in recent days, with main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou You-yi voicing his intentions to change it back to 4 months should he be elected.

As the announcement was met with polarizing feedback, Wu clarified that Hou had readdressed his statement and attached strict conditions on the shortening of conscription.

Even so, Esper firmly stated that returning to a 4-month conscription service would send the wrong message. "It really questions the resolve of people in Taiwan," he said.

"The American people would ask themselves: Why should I send our sons and daughters to fight? If Taiwanese boys and girls won't fight for their own country?"

With elections just around the corner, democratic allies of Taiwan will all be closely observing Taiwan's ultimate decision.

The Taiwan Briefing

#Taiwan#conscription service#military#Dr. Mark Esper#Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

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