TAIPEI (TVBS News) — The founder of the Forward Alliance, a Taiwanese NGO focusing on national security, believes a rising "civil defense movement" has emerged and argues the need for "preparedness" amid soaring cross-strait tension.
"All of the major milestones in Taiwan's democracy, and Taiwan's improvement and intelligence progress, have been a result of civil society mobilizing and pushing for change," Enoch Wu told TVBS World Taiwan. "And national defense, in my mind, is no different."
A recent survey commissioned by the Institute for National Defense and Security Research ((INDSR), a defense think tank, revealed a significant increase in Taiwanese confidence in their military, with 45% acknowledging an improvement in combat capabilities. However, Taiwan's defense faces challenges such as aging personnel and a manpower shortage.
Wu views the situation differently. "We're already seeing a movement of community leaders, NGOs, and local groups trying to get involved in promoting resilience in our community," he explained. Amid cross-strait tensions and global geopolitical shifts, Wu believes that Taiwanese participation in civil defense stems from a strong sense of citizenship.
"Every citizen feels that we have a role to play in bettering Taiwan, in keeping Taiwan a safe, democratic, and prosperous place," Wu added on the sidelines of the "Civil Defense as a Social Movement? Scholars meet Activists & the Military,” Workshop and Roundtables on Civil Defense in Taiwan, on Friday (Nov. 24). He emphasized the importance of preparation to deter conflict and preserve peace.
To Wu, civil defense encompasses more than just firearms; it's about community protection and resilience in adversity. "The idea is that when disaster strikes, we must rely on everyone in society to play their part in helping each other," Wu said, emphasizing the need for practice during peacetime.
Wu also highlighted the challenges to Taiwan's civil defense, such as ensuring all societal groups understand their roles. He critiqued the existing civil defense groups under the police for "de-emphasized" training, leading to disappointment in the official program.
"Our responsibility as a nonprofit organization and the government's responsibility as the state is to make sure that when they turn out for training, we don't waste their time, and we make sure that they learn useful skills that they know will help them and their families in times of need," Wu concluded.