Taiwan allows women to train as reservists for the first time



Taiwan’s military announced plans on Tuesday to include women in reserve training for the first time this year, as the island tries to bolster its forces against threats from China.

Democratic, self-ruled Taiwan lives under constant fear of Chinese invasion, with Beijing claiming the island as part of its territory that will one day be seized, by force if necessary.

The clattering of Chinese swords has intensified in recent years under President Xi Jinping, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has deepened fears in Taiwan that Beijing might act similarly.

Voluntary reservist training

Taipei’s Defense Ministry said it will allow about 200 demobilized female soldiers to enroll in voluntary reservist exercises from the second quarter of this year, as part of efforts to boost the overall support force.

“This is the first year that women have been included in reservist training, so this year it will be a pilot program,” said Maj. Gen. Yu Wen Cheng of the ministry’s Comprehensive Defense Mobilization Agency.

Also read: German MPs and minister set to arrive in Taiwan as tensions with China rise

“We will plan training capabilities according to the number of applicants.”

He told reporters that the volunteer programs aim to “enhance the effectiveness of retraining the reservists in combat skills to help improve the combat capabilities of the reservists.”

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Currently, only Taiwanese men are required to do mandatory military service and reserve training, although women can volunteer to serve in the armed forces.

Many military analysts have urged Taiwan to do more to bolster its reserves and prepare its civilian population for defense, including allowing more women to train.

Last month, Taiwan announced an increase in mandatory military service for men to one year – from four months – citing the threat from an increasingly hostile China.

Some lawmakers have proposed including women in some form of compulsory service.

Taiwan outgunned

President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female president, said the extension of military service is necessary to “ensure a democratic way of life for our future generations.”

“Nobody wants war…but my comrades, peace will not fall from the sky.”

Taiwan is a mountainous island and would pose a formidable challenge to an invading power, but it is vastly outmatched, with 89,000 ground forces compared to China’s one million, according to Pentagon estimates.

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Taiwan and China split at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, and Tsai said joining China was unacceptable to the people of the island.

Xi, China’s most assertive leader in decades, said what he calls “reunification” of Taiwan should not be passed on to future generations.

Also read: Taiwan expects more pressure from China after Xi boosts energy – FM

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