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'Strawberry soldiers' fail to convince

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-12-29 07:04
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Tsai Ing-wen. [File photo/Agencies]

Tsai Ing-wen, leader of China's Taiwan island, has announced extension of military service for local young people from the current four months to a year, effective from Jan 1, 2024.

While announcing it on Tuesday, Tsai said this was "a difficult decision", and for once she seems to be right. There was a time when every young man on the island had to spend two years in a military camp. However, to please young voters, the Kuomintang and Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party jointly reduced it to one year in 2008, and then to four months in 2018.

Reports now say that pressure from the United States has prompted the ruling DPP to extend the period of military service. Washington has always been pushing to turn the island into a fortress and an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" against China in its quest to prevent China's national reunification. Now Tsai has chosen to favor her boss across the Pacific rather than voters on the island.

She did so despite a popular sentiment on the island that goes "Vote DPP and get warfare". Her announcement comes after the DPP's humiliating defeat in local elections in November.

The decision indicates who is Tsai's biggest supporter and who is the biggest threat to peace in the Taiwan Straits. Yes, it is the US and the gentlemen and gentlewomen on Capitol Hill who are always pointing fingers at everyone in the world.

However, their plan to prevent China's reunification will not succeed. People on both sides of the Straits believe Taiwan's military consists of "strawberry soldiers", implying they are as fragile as strawberries, which need warmth and tender care. And some people believe that should the motherland attempt national reunification by force, the strawberry soldiers will surrender in no time. A local opinion poll in Taiwan showed that as many as 71 percent of those surveyed are not confident that these soldiers will be able to "defend Taiwan".


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