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Taiwan MND to abolish alternatives to conscription in 2015

Taiwan News, Staff Writer
Page 2
2010-04-02 12:00 AM
http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1217648&lang=eng_news...

Alternatives to compulsory military service will disappear once conscription is abolished on Jan. 1, 2015, but the wages of soldiers will rise significantly, defense officials said yesterday.

Taiwan plans to finish conscription by the end of 2014 following successive governments' measures to cut down the size of the military.

Potential conscripts born in 1994 or later would only have to undergo four months of basic military training, reports said. Those born before who had not served yet, would still be expected to serve for one year, Ministry of National Defense personnel chief Chao Ko-ta told lawmakers.

Responding to fears from legislators that some would refuse to undergo the four months of training for religious reasons, Chao said they could do administrative work at departments not involved in combat duties.

The basic monthly salary for volunteer soldiers would rise from NT$27,915 to NT$30,915, which would take the average total cost per 10,000 soldiers to NT$210 million, he said.

Alternative service began in 2000, with about 23,000 people fulfilling the service during 2009, reports said.

The legislative foreign affairs and defense committee session also turned its attention to China's military threat. Lawmakers expressed concern that China was likely to start using its first aircraft carrier in 2012, threatening to disrupt the balance of power across the Taiwan Straits.

Defense intelligence officials however played down the threat, saying the ship was just a renovated version of an old aircraft carrier. The ship could move, but otherwise it had little operational value, officials told lawmakers.

The military said it would still take some time before China succeeded in launching the aircraft carrier, and even more time for it to actually be able to use the vessel in a warfare situation. The ministry would closely monitor developments involving the carrier, officials said.