Asia-Pacific, Conflict, Defense, Power & Security, China How Taipei Can Achieve Greater Civilian Buy-in for its Military Challenges

January 11, 2023
By Thomas J. Shattuck | Global Taiwan Institute

As Taiwan continues to grapple with preparing for—and deterring—a future invasion by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), there has been significant debate about the proper ways in which Taipei should boost its ability to fight and improve the capacity of its armed forces. Such conversations have accelerated in the aftermath of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which led many observers to speculate about whether Taiwan would be next. One of Taiwan’s greatest military challenges is its relatively small number of active-duty personneland repeated failures to meet recruiting goals. Without a properly staffed and equipped force, Taiwan will continue to face existential questions about its ability to stop a Chinese military invasion. 

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war, conversations about Taiwan’s military preparedness, defense strategy, military recruitment, and civil defense have all heightened. The efforts of Forward Alliance (壯闊台灣), a civil defense and disaster response organization founded by former special forces soldier-turned-politician Enoch Wu (吳怡農), and Kuma Academy (黑熊學院), a civil defense organization cofounded by Doublethink Lab Chairman Puma Shen (沈伯洋), are geared towards preparing civilians for the worst by educating them with the necessary skills to carry out first aid in disaster situations and identifying fake news and conspiracy theories, while also providing general civil defense information and skill-building. While these organizations are working to fill a knowledge and skill gap on the part of Taiwan’s citizens, they currently have limited reach.

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