The concern that China might try to seize Taiwan is preoccupying American military planners and administration officials. Few of them think Taiwan’s military could hold the line.
Soldiers, strategists and government officials in Taiwan and the U.S. say the island’s military is riven with internal problems, many of which have built up over years of calm and economic prosperity and now are eating away at Taiwan’s ability to deter China.
Among the most pressing concerns are poor preparation and low morale among the roughly 80,000 Taiwanese who are conscripted each year and the nearly 2.2 million reservists.
Xiao Cheng-zhi, a 26-year-old from central Taiwan, said his four months of basic training that ended last year mainly involved sweeping leaves, moving spare tires and pulling weeds. Aside from some marksmanship training, he said, his classes were meaningless.
Mr. Xiao dismissed his cohorts as strawberry soldiers, a term used in Taiwan to describe young people raised by overprotective parents who bruise easily. While he said he is willing to serve, he doubted the island would stand much chance against China’s People’s Liberation Army.
China is flexing its military muscles. Is Taiwan ready? Taiwanese soldiers and reservists are concerned. https://t.co/p0znl75lZQ
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) October 26, 2021