Conscription in Taiwan

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The Republic of China (Taiwan) has maintained a policy of conscription for all qualified males of military age since 1949.[citation needed]. The Taiwanese government used to plan to end it in 2014, but abolishing conscription is quite controversial among Taiwanese society, hence the government has not yet confirmed the abolishing schedule. Females from the outlying islands within the province of Fuchien, which are geographically closest to mainland China, were also required to serve in a civil defense role, although this requirement has been dropped since the lifting of martial law. Although the majority of all enlisted positions in the ROC Armed Forces have been and are currently filled by draftees, the government intends to gradually expand the number of volunteer soldiers with the eventual goal of forming an all volunteer military. However, even then there will be compulsory basic training for all males reaching 18. Recent years have also seen an increase in the service options open to draftees, including alternative service with the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), as well as specialized service options for draftees in specific professions. The draft process is set forth under the ROC Military Service Act under the auspices of the MOI's National Conscription Agency as well as by Article 20 of the ROC Constitution.[1]

The ROC Defense Ministry had announced that should voluntary enlistment reach sufficient numbers, the compulsory service period for draftees will be shortened to 14 months in 2007. It will be further shortened to 12 months in 2009.[2][3][4]

On March 10, 2009 Minister of Defence Chen Chao-min said by the end of 2014 Taiwan will have an all volunteer military force. The process of removing conscription will begin in 2010 and by the end of 2014 an all volunteer force will replace the conscipts. Individuals who wish to join must have a minimum of high school education and those who do not volunteer for the military will be forced to complete four months of military boot camp.[5] In 2012, it was reported that from 2013 on, military draftees born after January 1, 1994 will only need to receive four months of military training and will no longer be required to serve one year of military service, and that the government was on track to replace all serving conscripts with volunteers by the end of 2014.[6] However, this timetable was pushed back in 2013 to the end of 2016. [7]

Should this policy remain unchanged, although the ROC will have a purely volunteer professional force, every male will still be conscripted to receive a three- to four-month military training. Thus, after 2016, compulsory military service will still remain in practice in the ROC.

The Military Service Act of the Republic of China was first enacted in 1933 (when the island of Taiwan, including the Pescadores, was not part of the ROC), with the latest amendment in 2011. The Enforcement Act for the Military Service Act was first enacted in 1947, when the government was fighting with the Communist Party of China across China. It is unclear when Taiwan was incorporated into the national territory of China, and on what legal basis this Act was extended over Taiwan.



18–22 years of age for selective compulsory military service, with 24-month service obligation; no minimum age for voluntary service (all officers are volunteers); 18–19 years of age for women high school graduates who meet requirements for specific military jobs (2009). Both men and women have been drafted. Under the current Military Service Act, all ROC citizens between the ages of 19 and 36 are considered to be of "draft age" and are subject to conscription, including those possessing dual citizenship (though the ROC does recognise dual citizenship). Generally, dual citizens who are males of military age are not permitted to renounce their ROC citizenship prior to completing their service obligations. Draftable males classified as Overseas Taiwanese are exempt from the draft provided they do not reside continuously in the Taiwan Area for a) more than four months at a time for those born in 1984 and before or b) more than 183 days in a two-year period.[8]

All draft age males will receive notices requiring them to report to the conscription sections of their local government offices at age 19 for preliminary assessment. Deferments are available for students of higher education institutions up to certain cutoff ages (24 for a bachelor's degree, 27 for a masters degree, and 30 for a doctoral degree), as well as for draftees with one sibling already serving. Following completion of the active duty service period, all draftees are demobilized with all emigration restrictions lifted and are considered reservists until age 36.

Draft age males are subject to restrictions on leaving the country prior to fulfilling their service obligations and require approval from either their local district offices (for short term visits abroad), or the MOI Immigration Bureau for students attending institutions of higher education abroad.

Draft dodgers are subject to criminal charges.

Service options[edit]

The following compulsory service options are available as of January 2006:

  • Enlisted military service (士兵役): 12 months of active duty enlisted military service in one of the four branches of the ROC Armed Forces.
  • Alternative service (替代役): 12 months of public safety or community service related work under the MOI, usually in the police, fire department, public clinics, local government offices, or as teachers in rural areas. Various billets are available only to draftees with related qualifications.[9]
  • National defense service (國防役): Available to draftees with advanced degrees, particularly in the sciences and engineering, who upon selection, receive 3 months of officer training culminating in a commission as an officer in the reserves, followed by four years of employment in a government or academic research institution such as the Academia Sinica or Industrial Technology Research Institute.

Draft process[edit]

The military draft process occurs in four steps:

  1. Military Registration Investigation: Interview conducted by the conscription sections of local government offices to determine the educational background of the draftee as well as any special skills (e.g. proficiency in a foreign language). Generally occurs upon a male ROC national's 19th birthday or periodically upon his establishment (or change) of residence in ROC administered territories while of draft age but not yet drafted. Education and other deferments may be granted at this point if the draftee is eligible. If the draftee is not eligible for a deferment, a physical examination is scheduled. The draftee may also apply for alternative or national defense service at this point. In the case of the latter, the draftee will be required to compete successfully at an officer selection board for the desired billet, after which he will continue directly on to officer training school following completion of the physical exam.
  2. Physical Examination: Draftee undergoes a full physical examination at a hospital approved by the Department of Health. Physical fitness is classified on three levels, A, B, and C, with level A and B draftees considered physically fit for military service.
  3. Drawing Lots: Draftees fit for military service then draw lots to determine if they will serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps (Military police officers are selected from Army draftees). The chances of drawing for each service are not equal with the Army generally being the most probable, the Navy intermediate, and the Air Force and Marines being the least probable.
  4. Basic Training: After being assigned a service branch, the draftee is then assigned a date to begin basic training, after which the draftee will enter active duty.[10]


  1. ^ "NCA". ROC National Conscription Agency. Archived from the original on 2006-10-07. Retrieved 2007-12-10.  (from internet archive)
  2. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook - Taiwan". Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  3. ^ Reduced to 1 year
  4. ^ "Taiwan Government Entry Point: Compulsory Military Service". Retrieved 2015-04-10. 
  5. ^ "archives". Taipei Times. 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  6. ^ "Volunteer military service to start from 2013". January 17, 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ "MND postpones full voluntary system to 2017". [1]. December 13, 2013.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ "Naturalized ROC's Citizens And Returned Overseas Chinese Military Service Regulations". Department of Compulsory Military Service, City of Taipei. 2004. Archived from the original on March 23, 2007. Retrieved 2006-03-05. 
  9. ^ "The Operation of Alternative Military Services". Department of Compulsory Military Service, City of Taipei. 2004. Archived from the original on May 17, 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-05. 
  10. ^ "Military Member Drafting". Department of Compulsory Military Service, City of Taipei. 2004. Retrieved 2006-03-05. [dead link]

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