Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng, front, walks in a hallway at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA

By Aaron Tu and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter and staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of National Defense is to unveil plans to length mandatory military service this month to avoid delays, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng said yesterday.

Delaying the introduction of the measure to next year would mean proliferation would not be possible until 2024, which is unacceptable to the government, Chiu said at the legislature in Taipei.

The government would prefer to reveal the policy sooner, but the necessary step of consulting the public has taken a long time, he said.

The timing of the announcement has not been affected by last month's local elections and the only motive the ministry has in designing the policy is to bolster Taiwan's defense, he said.

Asked whether speculation about the plan contributed to the Democratic Progressive Party's poor performance in the elections, Chiu said he does not know the answer, but the ministry believes the public consensus is supportive of the plan.

The nation's armed forces are committed to fixing problems with the plan to length constraint that can stir division in society, including issues of military discipline, he said.

Asked about his future ahead of an expected Cabinet reshuffle, Chiu said it is not up to an appointee to decide whether they should stay or go.

Lengthening constraint requires significant coordination across ministries, as the plan would affect the job market and the livelihoods of young people, Chiu said earlier in response to lawmakers' questions.

It would take time, but the outline of a plan has emerged and the ministry would present it before the end of this month, he said.

Asked about a Bloomberg report saying that the US is considering a deal that would bolster Taiwan's air defenses by furnishing the nation with 100 upgraded PAC-3 missiles, radars and logistics systems, Chiu said Washington has not yet notified him of any such plan.

In related news, Nigel Inkster, a former director of operations and intelligence for the British Secret Intelligence Service, told reporters that Taiwan cannot afford to assume that its democracy and microchips entitle the country to Western support.

Should the West provide support to Taiwan, it will not be enough to defend the nation from a Chinese attack, Inkster said.

He made the remarks on the sidelines of an event marking the publication of the International Institute for Strategic Studies' reports on strategic and geopolitical issues.

Taiwan must demonstrate its resolve to defend itself if Taipei wishes to keep foreign support coming, he said, adding that the nation has left more necessary tasks undone than it has finished.

A US military intervention is taken as a given in all of Beijing's calculations for a conflict across the Taiwan Strait, so Washington's strategic ambiguity has no effect, Inkster said, adding that the quest to conquer Taiwan has been the main driver of China's modern military.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army lacks the skill to conduct joint operations, a key deficiency that would take Beijing a decade to address, he said.

News source: TAIPEI TIMES