Legislator calls for longer military service
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Luo Chih-cheng is calling on the government to extend the mandatory military service period.
Luo says he believes a mainly volunteer force, with conscripts serving in a supporting role, remains the most suitable model for the country - and as such, "moderately extending the mandatory service period is necessary."
Luo says a year of mandatory service, rather than the current four months, would be "easier to arrange" in terms of young people's education and professional plans.
The DPP lawmaker is also raising the possibility of expanding the current male-only conscription to include women, which he says would only require a legal amendment, rather than constitutional reform.
However, Luo says while women already make up a significant portion of Taiwan's voluntary armed forces, making females undergo mandatory conscription would require more discussion and consensus.
The news comes as a top US commander says China has fully militarized at least three of several islands it built in the disputed South China Sea and has armed them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment, and fighter jets.
US Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C Aquilino says the increasingly aggressive moves threaten all nations operating nearby.
He says that's in stark contrast to Chinese President Xi Jinping's past assurances that Beijing would not transform the artificial islands into military bases.
The Navy aircraft carrying Aquilino and AP journalists flew near Chinese-held islands in the South China Sea's Spratly archipelago on Sunday.
The plane dismissed multiple warnings by Chinese callers that it illegally entered what they said was China's territory.