As we’ve previously reported, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, China had been on this military exercise showcasing their naval and aerial military. But with tensions rising between China and Taiwan, the latter’s having a hard time enlisting brave soldiers to fight for their independence.

According to reports, a growing number of Taiwan’s soldiers are deliberately gaining weight to avoid being called into action. These soldiers are being dubbed the “strawberry soldiers.:
Last year, the US military raised concerns about Taiwan’s weakening defense. Aside from its limited artillery, its decreasing military forces have become a considerable concern. Though the US military has been a balanced supporter of Taiwan, US officials reportedly showed concern when they learned about Taiwan’s ground force personnel problems. Compared to China, Taiwan has roughly about 1/100 of China’s military population. Additionally, China has about 25 times the military budget of Taiwan. If something happens, the US is looking for Taiwan to at least hold the fort while waiting for reinforcements, but with Taiwan’s current military state, it might not be possible.

“From my perspective, we are really far behind what we need,” said Lee Hsi-min, chief of the general staff of Taiwan’s military until 2019.

Lee added that Taiwan has long been interested in investing more in its military and improving its “guerrilla-style warfare.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said that the US is committed to supporting Taiwan’s ability for self-defense but has not confirmed if they have any definitive ways of showing support (military aid, financial or humanitarian).

In 2012, during the opening of the camp area of ​​the Taitung Regional Headquarters of the Army, after the combat drills, soldiers in full armor and armed with firearms returned to the camp. (Source: 玄史生/Wikimedia)

As of writing, Taiwan’s volunteer population is only about 165,000 soldiers (dropping significantly from their 275,000 number three years ago). But, about 445,000 troops (185,000 regulars and 260,000 reservists) can reportedly be called into action if a direct conflict happens.

Taiwan also launched new and improved military salaries over the past five years to encourage sign-ups, but this is not pushing the Taiwanese into the fold. A former deputy minister in Taiwan’s mainland affairs council, Alexander Huang, said one of the reasons the country’s military force is low is because the general population doesn’t believe China would launch a direct attack.”

“Even in the past two years, when we started to see the trade war and U.S.-China strategic competition, (and) shows of force by (China’s military) around our air defense identification zone, poll numbers tell us that Taiwan’s perception in a general sense is that China won’t do it,” he said.