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DEFENSE/Canadian author launches civil defense e-book for expats in Taiwan

12/03/2023 09:56 PM
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Taipei, Dec. 3 (CNA) Canadian author John Groot on Sunday launched a free e-book on civil defense information for members of the expatriate community in Taiwan, citing the increased threat of war posed by China.

The book, titled "Resilience Roadmap: An Emergency Preparedness Guide for Expats in Taiwan," offers suggestions and survival tips for dealing with a range of emergencies such as typhoons, earthquakes and fires.

Groot said, however, that his main incentive for writing the book was the threat of a military attack on Taiwan by China.

"The real trigger of that was more about the increased threat of war that seems to have been growing recently because of the aggressive posture that [Chinese President] Xi Jinping (習近平), in particular, has been taking," Groot told CNA on the sidelines of an event to promote his book. 

In the chapter about a possible Chinese military attack on Taiwan, Groot recommends checking travel advisories for Taiwan issued by the United States Department of State, before deciding whether to leave or stay in Taiwan. He also offers tips on how to optimize the chances of booking flights, and he lists some things to consider and what to expect if expats choose to leave or stay.

At the book launch, the author said if Taiwan could build up its civil defense capabilities, that would help with its national defense, as the government would not have to focus so much energy on civil defense during a war. In addition, the people would be more resilient against the shock of war, and the negative impact on society's functions could be minimized, he said.

The references used for the book included the Israeli and Swedish civil defense structures, a similar publication by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, and input by military experts, Groot said.

Noting that there are not many readily available English-language publications in Taiwan on handling contingencies, Groot said he hoped his book would help to better prepare the expat community to deal with emergencies.

Groot said he planned to use a "grassroots distribution strategy" to circulate his book, which is a "community resource."

Meanwhile, at a forum held after the book launch, one of the experts who was cited in the book discussed a number of civil defense issues related to a possible war against Taiwan.

Using Israel's civil defense system as an example, Guermantes Lailari spoke about the benefits of having an ad hoc civil society crisis center set up by volunteers, the potential effects of female soldiers joining combat, and how to enable village security teams to play a more crucial role in the event of a Chinese invasion.

He noted that female soldiers directly involved in combat make up 17 percent of the Israeli Defense Forces but female soldiers in Taiwan have largely been kept from fighting.

If Taiwanese female soldiers joined the front lines, however, Taiwan's armed forces would be much more lethal, said Lailari, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and visiting scholar at National Chengchi University.

He also suggested that a volunteer-based civil society crisis center would be crucial if reservists were called up or if a missile hit the wrong target, as such a facility would serve to shelter children, provide food and accommodation, and treated the injured.

The community security teams in Taiwan are unarmed, which would present a security loophole if China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) ground troops landed on Taiwan, Lailari said.

If the community security teams were armed with guns, however, they could hold off invading PLA soldiers until Taiwan forces arrived, he said.

Lailari advised that civil defense should be approached by considering what would happen if the government was unable to help civilians.

People should think about how could they better protect themselves in a crisis, who would need help, and what could be done to help others and to reduce risks, he said.

(By Sean Lin)

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