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Taiwan to reduce length of military service


Taiwan will reduce compulsory military service from one year to four months, the defence ministry said Wednesday, in what is widely seen as a first step towards scrapping conscription altogether.

Benefiting from improved ties with mainland China, the island’s young men will have to spend shorter time in uniform beginning from early 2015, after parliament passed an amendment to the conscription law late Tuesday, it said.

“We are gradually introducing a professional military, so there will be no holes in our defence capabilities,” said David Lo, the defence ministry’s spokesman.

The ministry plans to eventually maintain a permanent professional military of 215,000 soldiers, down from 275,000 conscripted and professional soldiers at present, he said.

Phasing out conscription was a campaign pledge by President Ma Ying-jeou in the 2008 election and he has stressed that a “small, elite and strong” voluntary military rather than conscription is best for the island’s defence.