FirstFT: Taiwan extends military requirement

Taiwan has pledged to beef up its armed forces with longer military service and more muscular training as president Tsai Ing-wen seeks to strengthen the country’s defences against the threat of an attack from China.

“Nobody wants war — neither the Taiwanese people and government nor the international community. But peace will not fall from the sky,” Tsai said when announcing the defence push yesterday, two days after Beijing staged its largest air manoeuvres around Taiwan in more than four months.

“Only preparing for war will help avoid war. Taiwan must strengthen its capability to defend itself.”

From 2024, compulsory military service for men will be extended from the current four months to a year and conscripts’ pay will be quadrupled to bring it in line with the minimum wage, said Tsai.

In addition, the defence ministry pledged to transform conscripts’ training — currently ridiculed as a waste of time because of its lack of shooting practice and focus on menial tasks — into a rigorous programme featuring wartime scenario simulation.

  • Go deeper: President Tsai Ing-wen has turned to the private sector to strengthen Taiwan’s defence procurement supply chain as the nation attempts to build a domestic supply chain for drones that its military could use in a war with China.

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Take a break from the news

Who are the FT’s crossword compilers? Our band of setters are a breed few know much about. Below, compiler James Brydon shares a little bit about himself.

Walk us through your compiling strategy: I always start with trying to find good clues for long answers, preferably avoiding anagrams as they are the easiest kind of clues to construct. At first, I look for good ideas: misdirection, striking images, funny ideas etc. Then, as a believer that crosswords are not simply a riddle but have technical and aesthetic qualities as well, I will spend time polishing the clues, aiming for accuracy, elegance and succinctness.

Any advice for solvers? A crossword is like a garden path sentence, so the trick for solving is to isolate individual words in the clue and work out how their meanings might be different from how they appear in the surface reading.

The clue you wished you’d written: Where to start? I like this one from Arachne in the Guardian: “Two idiots stripped Mini’s bumpers off” (9). Read on to find out the answer. Try out the FT’s latest crossword puzzles here.

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