Hou You-yi, Kuomintang (KMT)’s presidential candidate, said yesterday that he would reverse the extension of military service set to take effect in January if elected President. Following controversy over national security concerns, he explained in a statement that he’s “not opposed to the policy” but didn’t backtrack on his plan to restore the four-month service.

“Today, we have no choice but to extend military service by one year,” he said. “Because under the governance of the Democratic Progressive Party, it has led to increased tensions and the threat of war across the Taiwan Strait, pushing us to the brink of conflict. Therefore, this is an unavoidable choice."

He vowed to maintain “stability” and “peace” in the Taiwan Strait, which would form a prerequisite basis of a shortened four-month military term, and purchase arms from the United States, which he called “Taiwan’s strongest ally.”

In a TVBS political talk show on Monday, Hou told the host that he would restore the length of compulsory military service to four months if elected as the next President. 

In response to growing tension between Taiwan and China, President Tsai Ing-wen announced in December that the current four-month compulsory military service will be extended to a year from 2024. In 2013, former President Ma Ying-jeou shortened the term to four months.

Local media reported that discontentment from U.S. officials prompted Hou to take back his comments in a day, and explained that he is only against the ‘‘3+1’’ plan, which allows the year of military service considered to be part of four-year university education.

In the TVBS talk show on Monday, Hou accused DDP’s government of endangering the cross-Strait ties to the brink of war zone, which led to a forced extension of military service imposed on the people. 

He also criticized that DDP’s ‘‘3+1 policy would lead to uneven distribution of educational resources between male and female students in university. Since men need to spend one year in the military and the other three years in school, Hou said it would obstruct their learning patterns. 

In response to Hou’s proposal, the DDP’s caucus summoned a press conference today, stating that KMT’s legislators all agreed on the one-year lengthened military term, and suspected Hou’s inconsistent political stance from the Party. “Only one party would hold the same stance, and it is the Communist Party of China.” said DDP legislator Tsai Shih-Ying.

DDP legislator Wang Ting-Yu also criticized Hou’s proposal as manipulation of heated topics in town, which would come at the great cost of national security. He also argued that Hou has ignored the looming threat of China’s military forces, and at the same time destroyed long built trust from Taiwan’s allies. 

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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