TAOYUAN, TAIWAN: Soldiers wearing gas masks crouched in a stadium Tuesday with rifles aimed at their target during their first-ever visit to Taiwan. Reserve training for women As the island strengthens its defenses against China.
Beijing – which claims its territory will one day be taken over by Taiwan – has conducted multiple military exercises around self-ruled Taiwan in the past year.
Taipei’s Ministry of Defense announced in January that it would allow more than 200 women to join voluntary reserve training for the first time as part of efforts to bolster its forces.
“You may not see any Rambuses here,” ministry spokesman Sun Lifang told reporters Tuesday after 14 former female soldiers took part in a five-day training program in Taoyuan City.
“But what you will see are our men and also the first batch of reservists who want to use their time to return to the barracks for training,” he said.
“I think this is very important in ensuring the safety of our country and showing the people’s resolve to protect our country.”
Taiwanese men are required to do mandatory military service and reserve training, but women can also volunteer to serve in the armed forces.
On Tuesday, the former female recruits pulled their gas masks off their heads, crawled across the playing field, patrolled the streets beside a temple, and performed other mock defensive exercises.
“Poisonous gases dissipated clear to take off the masks!” One of their officers shouted before they quickly removed their equipment.
Reserve Tang Mi – a realtor – said that “without a country, there is no home.”
“That’s why I’m here – because what matters to the country is everyone’s business,” said the 26-year-old.
Military analysts have urged Taiwan to do more to bolster its reservists and prepare the civilian population for a possible invasion, including allowing more women to train.
Some lawmakers have proposed including women in some form of compulsory service.
Tensions between Taipei and Beijing escalated last year after China conducted intense military exercises around the island in response to then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Last month, Beijing staged war games simulating an island blockade in protest of a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Pelosi’s successor Kevin McCarthy in California.


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