KMT's Hou pledges to spend NT$10 billion raising servicemen's salaries
Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) on Monday pledged to allocate NT$10 billion (US$317.34 million) to raise the starting salary for voluntary servicemen as an incentive for people to serve in the nation's armed forces.
The money will be spent on increasing the salary of military personnel by NT$10,000 per month, in particularly those serving on the frontline and in combat units, that currently facing a shortage of personnel, Hou said during a press event to outline his national defense and foreign affairs policy.
Hou also said that another main reason for the reluctance of Taiwanese youth to serve in the military is that most Taiwanese respect military personnel far less than in other countries.
That is why once he wins the 2024 presidency race, he pledged to make Sept. 3 Armed Forces Day a public holiday with one day-off and rename it "Showing Respect to the Armed Forces Day," so service personnel in Taiwan can receive the respect they deserve, the New Taipei mayor said.
In outlining an overall defense strategy, Hou reiterated his 3Ds strategy namely, "deterrence, dialogue and de-escalation" in the face of growing cross-strait tensions over the past eight years during the rule of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) because of a lack of official communication channels with Beijing.
Hou said Taiwan has to be prepared for war, and use its strength to safeguard peace and stability across the strait.
However, at the same time, he called for the re-establishment of dialogue with China based on the principles of equality, goodwill and dignity, to gradually decrease hostility, reduce the risk of conflict across the Taiwan Strait and avoid war.
The KMT candidate said the current DPP administration lacks a comprehensive national security strategy blueprint that all government branches and the people of Taiwan can understand and follow.
He pledged to release such a blueprint within 10 months of assuming the presidency on May 20.
Meanwhile, in terms of foreign policy, Hou criticized the DPP government for losing nine diplomatic allies to China since taking power in May 2016. The country now only has 13 states worldwide as diplomatic allies.
Taiwan has also been unable to attend the World Health Assembly and International Civil Aviation Organization meetings as an observer, a privilege the former KMT government enjoyed due to warmer relations with China, Hou added.
He said the DPP's New Southbound Policy which aims to enhance trade and exchanges with 18 countries in Southeast and South Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, in a bid to reduce Taiwan's dependence on China, is not working as claimed by the ruling party.
Hou proposed that instead of focusing on ASEAN, India, Australia and New Zealand, his administration will expand its focus to the greater Indo-Pacific region.
Another goal during his presidency will be for Taiwan to push for swift accession to the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, Hou said.
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