The government is considering whether to allow children of overseas ethnic Chinese (華人) who were born abroad and are studying at college in Taiwan, commonly known as qiaosheng (僑生), to join the armed forces after they graduate as a solution to the shortage of volunteers, officials said yesterday.
Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) Minister Steven Chen (陳士魁) unveiled the proposal in a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
Later yesterday, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said the ministry was happy with the policy as long as the legal hurdles could be cleared.
The Act of Military Service for Volunteer Enlisted Soldiers (志願士兵服役條例) restricts people qualified for selection for the military to Republic of China nationals.
Chen told the committee that the ministry is seeking to have the related rules in the Immigration Act (入出國移民法) and the Nationality Act (國籍法) revised to make it easier for qiaosheng intending to pursue a military career in Taiwan to acquire ROC citizenship so they can enlist for military service.
“The OCAC has received complaints from overseas compatriots about the minimum period of residence required in Taiwan for qiaosheng to gain ROC citizenship to either work in Taiwan or serve in the military and contribute to the country,” Chen said.
OCAC spokesperson Chen Yu-mei (陳玉梅) said that qiaosheng, under the Regulations Regarding Study and Counseling Assistance for Overseas Chinese Students in Taiwan (僑生回國就學及輔導辦法), refers to ethnic Chinese who were born overseas and resided there or who have been overseas for more than six consecutive years and have permanent or long-term residence certificates.
About 4,000 qiaosheng enroll at colleges or universities every year, an OCAC official said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Cheng-hsiang (陳鎮湘) said he could include the new rules in a draft bill under deliberation to exempt qiaosheng interested in serving as volunteer soldiers from the nationality requirement.
“The recruitment rate this year is crucial to determining whether the military can successfully shift from mandatory conscription to an all-volunteer force. Qiaosheng should be able to be enlisted as soon as possible,” Chen Cheng-hsiang said.