Switzerland is slightly larger than Taiwan in area, and has about one-third of its population. A small and beautiful country in Central Europe bordering Germany, Italy, France and Austria, Switzerland is a permanent neutral power, attracting visitors with its breathtaking scenery of the Alps and lakes, including the lakes surrounding Interlaken.
It was agreed by European powers at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 that Switzerland should be “permanently neutral” in all future conflicts. Two hundred years on, having been through two world wars, Switzerland has been able to stay out of wars, recuperating and building up strength. On top of that, its diligent and professional people have enabled Switzerland to enjoy a prosperous economy.
Apart from being a neutral state, the main reason Switzerland can achieve this is that it has a complete system of national defense — not only the defensive facilities and strength, but also that its people share a common goal of defending their home and country, uniting themselves against foreign aggression.
Swiss citizens are required to perform compulsory military service from the age of 20, and female citizens can also volunteer for military service. In addition to fundamental combat training and physical training, each soldier receives professional training such as driving, medical affairs, information technology and high-tech weapons operation based on their own expertise.
Upon finishing boot camp training of 18 to 21 weeks, they can take home the military uniforms, guns, gas masks and other weapons, with the exception of ammunition, for safekeeping, and are required to receive three weeks of solid tactical training every year until they complete a minimum of 245 days of service. Those who choose long service to fulfill their entire military obligations remain reserve officers for 10 years after training.
Although Switzerland has only 3,500 professional soldiers in peacetime, there are about 350,000 well-trained reserve militia ready to be mobilized during wartime or in case of major natural disasters. They can organize and mobilize themselves extremely well and quickly.
Despite being a neutral state, Switzerland is also a NATO partner country: In addition to being able to maintain its national security with a solid defense against foreign invasion, it also shoulders the responsibility of maintaining world peace and humanitarian relief.
Adolf Hitler, who swept the European battlefields during World War II, made several attempts to invade neighboring Switzerland.
However, having analyzed the situation, the Nazi German army ended up giving up the plan — Switzerland’s national defense system includes all citizens, and it would have cost the German army 1 million killed or injured soldiers to occupy the country.
This is exactly what the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu (孫子) was referring to in his The Art of War (孫子兵法) when he said that supreme excellence in the practical art of war consists in “breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
Switzerland’s national defense strategy makes it like a porcupine with short and dense spikes — when it encounters an enemy, it curls its body into a ball, with the spikes facing outward to resist the enemy’s invasion and make it impossible for the enemy to swallow it, unless it is willing to pay a heavy price.
Taiwan has a mountainous backbone that includes, among others, Yushan (玉山), the highest mountain on the island at 3,952m above sea level.
It shares other similarities with Switzerland, with its green fields, rivers and springs, and is often described as “the Switzerland of the East.”
Taiwan and the US have a long-standing friendship, particularly in the past few years. The US, Taiwan and Switzerland are all democratic countries, adhering to the universal values of democracy and freedom, and jointly promoting world peace.
As President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) declared during her Double Ten National Day address, Taiwan would strengthen its defenses to reduce the risk of war and maintain its national security, and it would actively participate in international cooperation.
Taiwanese believe that “peace depends on national defense.” Using the “porcupine strategy” and participating in the Indo-Pacific regional alliance, Taiwan will surely help maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region.
Lawrence Chien is an English and Japanese-speaking guide.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
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