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Downsizing of military a global trend: MND

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Streamlining military personnel is a world trend for those countries that have a full-scale voluntary military, a Ministry of National Defense (MND) report said.

According to the MND report released by the Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday, the Republic of China had a force of 600,000 when the government was moved from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949.

Back then, Taiwan's total population only stood around 6 million, equaling a 10-percent troop-to-population ratio.

The number of Taiwanese troops has continued to be reduced since 1998 when the military first launched a streamlining project during the tenure of former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the MND said.

By the end of this year at the conclusion of the ongoing downsizing project, the R.O.C. armed forces will be reduced to around 215,000. The number would be a troop-to-population ratio of around 0.8 percent.

However, the ratio is still relatively high in comparison with other countries in the world that have voluntary military systems, the MND said.

Most of the world powers have a troop-to-population ratio of less than 0.5 percent, including France (0.48 percent), the United States (0.45 percent), the United Kingdom (0.23 percent) and Japan (0.19 percent), according to the MND report.

As the nation is about to abolish its conscription system and replace it with a full voluntary one, there is still room for further downsizing of R.O.C. armed forces while maintaining a force that is relatively small in size but strong in defense capability, it noted.

The MND report was made to convince the public on the MND's latest move to further cut down the size of local armed forces, according to the United Evening News.

The MND announced earlier this year its goal to further trim down R.O.C. military personnel numbers to between 170,000 and 190,000 by the end of 2019 as part of a new streamlining project.

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