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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Taiwan

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Taiwan, 20 May 2008, available at: [accessed 20 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 22 million (5.2 million under 18)1
Government Armed Forces: 290,000
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 20 (2)
Optional Protocol: not applicable

The minimum age for recruitment to the armed forces was 18, and there were no reports of under-18s serving in the forces.


Tensions remained high between Taiwan and China. Taiwan continued to build its defence policies around a potential attack by China, which it claimed was involved in an ongoing military build-up.3 In June 2007 proposals by the Taiwanese president to hold a referendum on whether the island should seek membership of the UN were met with severe criticism from China, which said that such moves would endanger peace and stability in the region.4


National recruitment legislation and practice

The 1947 constitution states that "The people shall have the duty of performing military service in accordance with law" (Article 20).

The 1933 Military Service Law, as amended in 2000 and 2005, provided the legal basis for conscription, stating that all males were liable for military service from 1 January of the year after they turned 18 until 31 December of the year they turned 40, this range being defined as the military service age (Article 3). Exemption on health grounds and deferment for school and college students were allowed. Citizens sentenced to imprisonment for at least five years or who had served a total of three years in prison were ineligible for service (Article 5).5

Under the Implementation Act for Substitute Service of 2000, those conscripts considered unsuitable for regular military service were allowed to perform substitute service, including in the police, fire, social, environmental, medical and educational services.6 Enlisted men could also apply for substitute service.7 According to the government, about 14,000 conscripts performed substitute service in 2005.8

The 1954 Punishment Act for Violation to Military Service System, as amended in 1967 and 1972, provided for prison sentences of up to five years for males of military service age who tried to avoid recruitment (Article 3).9

The 1959 Act of Military Service for Volunteer Enlisted Men, as amended in 2003, stated that males who had reached military service age could volunteer to enlist for between three and five years, and could apply to extend their term for between one and three years (Article 3). Further extension could be ordered by the Ministry of Defence in the event of war or disorder, or if the number of retirees would affect national defence (Article 5). According to the government about 6,500 enlistees signed up in 2005.10

Military service requirements were currently undergoing substantial revisions as part of an overall streamlining of the armed forces, which aimed to see troop numbers reduced to around 275,000 by the end of 2008.11 While the military had hitherto consisted primarily of conscripts, efforts were now in place to reduce the numbers of conscripted troops while encouraging volunteers. The government aimed for a ratio of 60 per cent volunteers to 40 per cent conscripts by 2008.12

From January 2006 the compulsory service period for conscripts was reduced from 22 to 16 months, to be reviewed annually.13 The Defence Ministry announced that, subject to sufficient numbers of volunteers enlisting, the period would be further reduced to 14 months in 2007, and 12 months in 2008.14 The 2005 amendments to the Military Service Act also allowed women to serve as enlisted personnel.15

After discharge from active duty, all reservists had to report to their local military reserve units, which were sub-units of the Armed Forces Reserve Command. Reservists were organized into various units according to their military occupational specialty. Registered reservists totalled 3.4 million in 2005.16

Military training and military schools

Taiwan operated a range of military education establishments, including the Republic of China Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy, as well as various specialized military schools, such as Fu Hsing Kang College, established to train in "political warfare", the National Defence Medical Centre, the National Defence Management College and the Chung Cheng Institute of Technology. The armed forces also operated a number of branch schools, such as the infantry, armour, and artillery and missile branch schools of the army. The Chung Cheng Armed Forces Preparatory School provided senior high school education to students who wished to continue in one of the three service academies or attend the Fu Hsing Kang College following graduation. It combined a regular senior high school education with basic military training.17

1 Government Information Office, Taiwan Yearbook 2006 (figures from 2006),

2 CIA, The World Factbook, 2008.

3 "National Defence", Taiwan Yearbook 2006, above note 1.

4 VOA News, "China blasts Taiwan president's support for UN referendum", 13 June 2007,

5 Military Service Act, 2 February 2000.

6 "National Defence", above note 3.

7 Conscription Agency of the Ministry of Interior,

8 "National Defence", above note 3.

9 Punishment Act for Violation to Military Service System, 24 February 1972.

10 "National Defence", above note 3.

11 Ibid.

12 Ministry of National Defence, 2006 National Defence Report, R.O.C., Ch. 7.

13 Ibid.

14 "Compulsory service to be reduced to 1 year by 2008 if recruiting is successful", Central News Agency, 27 September 2005.

15 "National Defence", above note 3.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

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