0205: U.S. Commitments to Taiwan, Taiwan’s Reserve Force Reform

The U.S. Should Be Clear about Defense Commitments to Taiwan

In response to Beijing’s comment that Washington should respect the Chinese claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, the new Biden administration has repeatedly urged Communist China to stop putting pressure on Taiwan. 

On January 28, Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said that the U.S. would continue to fulfill its commitments to Taiwan’s self-defense needs under the Taiwan Relations Act. Kirby’s comments came after Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesman Colonel Wu Qian defended China’s increased military activity in the Taiwan Strait, saying that “[Taiwan] independence means war.” [1]

On February 2, during her confirmation hearing, Deputy Defense Secretary nominee, Kathleen Hicks, stated that the U.S. should be “crystal clear” about its commitments to Taiwan and help reinforce the country’s self-defense against China. She added that the U.S. also needs to enhance its own deterrence capabilities to fulfill its commitments in the region, highlighting the Pacific Deterrence Initiative as an opportunity to elevate it. [2]

Also, on February 2, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected leadership.” Price was responding to a remark by China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who said China expects the U.S. to “strictly abide by the one-China principle, and respect China’s position and concerns on the Taiwan question.” [3]

The U.S. continues to demonstrate its “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” as on February 4, the USS John S. McCain, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, transited through the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. 7th Fleet issued a press release stating that the destroyer “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit . . . in accordance with international law.” In recent years, U.S. Navy ships have increasingly transited through the Taiwan Strait, which is considered a potential hotspot for armed conflict. [4]

FAPA President Minze Chien stated, “As China intensifies its military threat, the U.S. should be very clear about its defense commitments to Taiwan, and it is highly encouraging to see the seamless continuation in U.S. policy and support toward Taiwan under the Biden administration.”

Taiwan’s Military Unveils Changes to Reservist Call-up System

On February 3, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced new rules to increase the frequency and duration of each reservist call-up to improve the combat readiness of the country’s reserve force.

Under the new policy, call-ups will be for 14 days of training rather than the current 5–7 days, and can occur every year instead of every two years. The proposal will begin as a limited two-year trial from 2022–2023 before a full-scale launch in 2024.

Moreover, Taiwan’s military is also extending the period during which reservists can be called up from a maximum of four times in eight years to four call-ups in 12 years after being discharged, to ensure Taiwan has a large enough reserve force, which currently has 770,000 reservists.

The announcement came after Defense Minister Yen De-fa said last year that the ministry was taking measures to ensure the reserve force will be a more reliable backup for the regular forces in protecting the country amid China’s growing military threat toward Taiwan.

Reservist training includes specialty re-training, firearms training, combat training, combined training, and disaster prevention and relief training, which are necessary for combat operations and disaster relief, the MND said.

Sources: Focus Taiwan, Liberty Times