《TAIPEI TIMES》 Chiu denies military morale is low
Troops stage an attack during an annual drill at a military base in Hualien on Jan. 30, 2018. Photo: Mandy Cheng, AFP
By Chen Yun and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng （邱國正） yesterday denied a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Monday that suggested that Taiwan’s military would be no match for China’s People’s Liberation Army （PLA）.
“I don’t understand what foreign media is basing its evaluation on, but I’m very confident in our military. There is no need to feel dispirited,” Chiu told reporters.
In its report, the Journal said that US military and government officials were concerned about China’s ambitions toward Taiwan and that very few among them believed that Taiwan could resist an attack by the PLA.
The report cited the officials as saying they believed morale was low in Taiwan’s military and that its preparations for a Chinese attack were inadequate.
The report blamed Taiwan’s shift from a mandatory two-year conscription for all young men to a four-month term that mostly had conscripts “sweeping leaves and pulling weeds.”
The report said practice at a firing range was the only beneficial part of the training.
Chiu said that he had previously heard criticism that the military was worsening with each generation, but he had also denied that assertion.
Separately, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen （史順文） at a routine news conference yesterday called for public support in efforts to strengthen national defenses in the face of Chinese threats to regional security.
The military would continuously aim to strengthen its combat abilities, he said, adding that military preparedness was an ongoing task.
The specifics of training would always keep pace with the times and the military is always working hard to make improvements, Shih said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu （王定宇） yesterday said that Taiwan had already transitioned to a professional military and that the four months of general training was not the same as that for professional military personnel.
“It’s true there is room for improvement in our military, but this idea often raised by opposition lawmakers and foreign academics that our military gets only four months of training is just a blatant attempt at disparagement,” Wang said.
The quality of Taiwan’s professional military training, the integration of branches of the military and its use of technology far exceed that of the PLA, he said.
However, in terms of the quality of equipment Taiwan still lags behind the PLA, he added.
“If you want to talk about morale, the family members of Taiwan’s military personnel live here in Taiwan. Of course their determination to protect this nation is greater than the will of the enemy to invade it,” Wang said.
Additional reporting by CNA