After World War II and the Cold War, many countries decided to transform their compulsory military systems into all-volunteer forces. Once a national emergency has passed, it makes perfect sense to professionalize the military and avoid relocating manpower from other sectors.
Despite President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) insistence that it has always been his goal to have a professional military, the move toward an all-volunteer army began during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration. The DPP soon realized, however, that if it were to achieve this objective, it would have to make the military as attractive and competitive an employer as the private sector. Without substantially higher salaries, opportunities for advancement and a defense university network, the dream of having a professional military of the size the government wants — up to 200,000 — will be hard to achieve.
The implication is that the military could find itself with the worst of both worlds — manpower and budget cutbacks without the dividends of a professional force. Acknowledging this, the DPP revised its plans for a purely professional military and settled instead for the more modest goal of a semi-volunteer force. In the process, it kept the necessary balance and force level to ensure that defenses did not suffer in the face of the Chinese military’s doctrine of taking Taiwan by force if necessary.
Drunk with illusions of peace or naive in its assessment of Beijing’s intentions, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government does not seem to understand the implications of military cutbacks. While Ma has said he wants a professional military within four to six years, we have yet to see what his government intends to do to attract young Taiwanese who stand to make much more money with far less risk in the private sector. A sense of national duty and pride can serve as an alternative to a high salary, but with the series of cutbacks the KMT government has announced in recent months, it is difficult to imagine how morale within the ranks cannot have been undermined, which will have an impact on the military’s ability to recruit. No one will seek a career in a sector that seems headed for the dustbin.
Estimates show that it would cost billions of NT dollars to professionalize the Taiwanese military. The defense cuts announced by the government make it difficult to imagine that it fully understands the challenges of creating an all-volunteer force.
Another worrying development is the KMT’s announcement over the weekend that it wants to dispose of the Combined Logistics Command, whose role, among other things, is to increase the use of automated information systems, improve the management and production of inventory throughout the military and conduct armament appraisal and testing. It also has a long history of cooperation with the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology in developing various weapons systems, including artillery, small arms and night-vision monitoring systems.
Ditching the command would send yet another message that Taiwan is unwilling to do what it needs to ensure its defense, or that it is on its way to capitulation. Without the proper domestic institutions to develop military equipment, Taiwan’s military would become even more dependent on other countries, but would have less money to acquire those systems.
With every day that passes, our military grows less capable of defending the nation against an opponent that is gaining in strength.
An outrageous dismissal of the exemplary Taiwanese fight against COVID-19 has been perpetrated by the EU. There is no excuse. I presume that everyone who reads the Taipei Times knows that the EU has excluded Taiwan from its so-called “safe list,” which permits citizens unhindered travel to and from the countries of the EU. As the EU does not feel that it needs to explain the character of this exclusive list, perhaps we should examine it ourselves in some detail. There are 14 nations on the list that have been chosen as safe countries of origin and safe countries of destination for
Filmmakers in Taiwan used to struggle when it came to telling a story that could resonate internationally. Things started to change when the 2017 drama series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a collaboration between HBO Asia and Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS), became a huge hit not just locally, but also internationally. The coming-of-age story was adapted from the 2013 PTS-produced short film The Busy Young Psychic (神算). Entirely filmed in Taiwan, the Mandarin-language series even made it on HBO’s streaming platforms in the US. It is proof that a well-told Taiwanese story can absolutely win the hearts and minds of hard-to-please
Drugged with sedatives, handcuffed and wearing a bright orange prison tunic, British fraud investigator and former journalist Peter Humphrey was escorted by warders into an interrogation room filled with reporters, locked inside a steel cage and fastened to a metal “tiger chair.” Humphrey recalls: “I was completely surrounded by officers, dazed, manacled and with cameras pointing at me through the bars. I was fighting for my life like a caged animal. It was horrifying.” Footage from the interrogation was later artfully edited to give the appearance of a confession and broadcast on Chinese state media. While this might sound like an
The US House of Representatives on July 1 passed by unanimous consent a bipartisan bill that would penalize Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s new national security legislation in Hong Kong, as well as banks that do business with them. The following day, the US Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was later sent to the White House, where it awaits US President Donald Trump’s signature. The bill does not spell out what the sanctions would look like and Trump has yet to sign it into law, but Reuters on Thursday last week reported that five major Chinese state lenders are considering