>> Recruits, from dancing mascots to flash mobs. It's facing a looming shortage of soldiers and a more aggressive China. After decades of conscription, the island's moving to a volunteer force. However, the armed forces are having trouble convincing young people. The pitch seems compelling. Get a state's funds or degree, 110 days of leave every year and annual savings of more than $10,000.
For some, that's still not enough.>> I'll be far away from society if I sign a contract to serve the military for five or ten years. It'll be difficult for me to reintegrate after I return from the military.>> Taiwan's past as a military dictatorship has left the arm forces unpopular.
So even this year as China's carried out bomber exercises around the island, national service is still a tough sell. As Reuters Yi-Mou-Lee reports>> Some had think China could just crash Taiwan with its economic power, and fighting a war against China is simply just a waste of time and money.
Some of them say, this is a fruitless effort. On top of that, Taiwan is a society with a high degree of personal freedom and autonomy, and many young people tend to prioritize personal freedom over a sense of national duty.>> China claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, and has not ruled out the use of violence against them.
Last year, China also had a defense budget roughly 15 times that of Taiwan's. But the unpopularity of Taiwan's military remains a major obstacle to closing the gap. The army faced large protests in 2013 when a young conscript died after being punished for misconduct. And more than a thousand reservists were charge for dodging mandatory training in the last three years.
By the end of 2018, Taipei wants to reach 80% of the volunteer troops it needs to defend against any attack by Beijing. But military experts told Reuters, with recruitment going as slow as its been, it won't be fast enough to close the gap with China's rising strength.