Taiwan’s opposition presidential hopeful vows to maintain peace with China, shorten military service

A top contender to be Taiwan’s next ruler has promised to maintain the peace with China and take a  backseat of an extension of compulsory military service that has been one of President Tsai Ing-wen’s sole victorious moments since taking office seven years ago. “I will make sure of stability and peace across the strait before I cut military service back to four months,” said Mr Hou Yu-ih, the opposition Kuomintang’s (KMT) candidate for the election set for January 2024. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was made to extend the military service to one year because the party made cross-strait rapports very tense and dangerous, the current mayor of New Taipei City added in an interview run by local broadcaster TVBS late on Monday.

Ms Tsai’s government declared in late 2022 that it was extending mandatory military service to one year from four months, showing gestures to Washington and Beijing that it is grave about securing itself. China has promised to someday reunite Taiwan, by force if important. The Biden administration has stepped up weapons sales to Taiwan so that it can secure itself. Mr Hou said on Monday for the first time that he accepted the tacit understanding between China and the KMT known as the “1992 consensus” that there is just “one China”.

He added that he denies the “one country, two systems” rule that Beijing has revealed could be utilized as its model for ruling Taiwan. Taiwan Vice-President Lai Ching-te, the ruling DPP’s presidential candidate, said in May that the government was thinking about keeping nuclear power plants on standby in case of emergencies, signalling a loosening of policy to phase out the energy source. The island has been willing to reduce coal consumption, leading to pressure on the government to build out gas-powered generation and offshore wind to avoid power shortages.