Country report and updates: Taiwan

Last revision: 19 May 1998
19 May 1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

Conscription has existed since the achievement of independence.

The legal basis of conscription is a text published in China in 1933, plus subsequent modifications. [1]

military service

All men between the ages of 18 and 45 are liable for military service. [1]

Military service lasts for two years. [1]

There are reserve duties. [4]

Military training for both men and women is available at both college and university, but it is not known whether it is compulsory. [3]

postponement and exemption

Exemption is possible for medical reasons and in the case of people sentenced to more than seven years' imprisonment for a criminal offence. [2]


Call-up for military service usually takes place at the age of 18.

Recruitment is run by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior. The number of liable conscripts is believed to exceed the number needed. [1]

Legal minimum enlistment age is not known. There have, however, been reports of children as young as 15 being recruited into the armed forces. [5]

2 Conscientious objection

The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognised and there are no provisions for substitute service. [2]

There are no known cases of people announcing that they are conscientious objectors, although one source believes that probably certain Buddhists or Christians have done so. [2]

3 Draft evasion and desertion


Not responding to call-up notice is punishable by six months' to five years' imprisonment, after which performing military service is still required. [2]


Monitoring of draft evasion seems to be quite strict. Liable conscripts who still have to perform military service are allowed to leave the country only with special permission, which may be granted to enable studying abroad. [2]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces comprise 376,000 troops, which is about 1.74 percent of the population. [4]

Every year about 190,000 men reach conscription age. [4]


[1] Société I3c 1991. Military Powers Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Paris. [2] Taiwan Association for Human Rights 1997. Response to CONCODOC enquiry, 2 December 1997. [3] 'First female students undergo military training', Central News Agency, Taipeh, 27 January 1997. [4] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military balance 1997/98. ISS, London. [5] 'Military service from 15', in: Children of War, 2/1996. Rädda Barnen, Stockholm.

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Taiwan

15 Sep 2015

The government of Taiwan has again post-poned plans to end conscription, because 'recruitment targets could not be met'. The Taiwanese military had originally planned to end conscription for those born after 1 January 1994 on the 1st January 2016, but this will now be moved back until at least the end of the year. The government delayed plans to move to an 'all volunteer' military in September 2013.

08 May 2010

Taiwan claims to abolish conscription from 1 January 2015 on. However, a closer look reveals that this is not really the case. Potential conscripts born in 1994 or later would only have to undergo four months of basic military training, reports said. Those born before who had not served yet, would still be expected to serve for one year, Ministry of National Defense personnel chief Chao Ko-ta told lawmakers according to Taiwan News.

29 Mar 2009

China Post reported on 13 March that Taiwan is to abolish conscription by 2014. Minister of National Defense, Chen Chao-ming, announced that Taiwan's military will become an all-volunteer force within five years. Speaking to a military committee under the Legislative Yuan, Minster Chen explained that the process would commence in 2011 and by 2014 all divisions of the R.O.C. Armed Forces will be filled with career soldiers instead of conscripts. However, a more detailed look at the announcement reveals that conscription won't be abolished completely.