Taiwan cancels 2020 diplomatic alternative military service due to pandemic

Taiwan scraps plan to send 100 alternative servicemen, nine interns overseas

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A total of 1,508 diplomatic alternative military servicemen were sent overseas in last 20 years. (Facebook, MOFA photo)

A total of 1,508 diplomatic alternative military servicemen were sent overseas in last 20 years. (Facebook, MOFA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Thursday (July 30) that its plan to send diplomatic alternative military servicemen and interns to foreign countries later this year will be canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

During a routine press briefing, MOFA's International Cooperation and Economic Affairs Department Director Tsai Yun-chung (蔡允中) said the 100 alternative service members expected to be dispatched as the country's diplomats will not be able to do so due to safety reasons. He added that the nine university interns recruited by the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) will also be asked to stay in Taiwan.

Tsai said the authorities had informed all affected individuals about the change of plan. He pointed out that the diplomatic servicemen will be assigned to military camps or other government agencies of their preference, while the interns will take alternative courses in local universities instead.

According to Tsai, the interns were scheduled to travel overseas on Aug. 10 and the diplomatic servicemen in late October. He said some individuals’ parents have expressed concerns for their children's safety, which prompted the decision, reported UDN.

Tsai stressed that MOFA is only canceling 2020's quota and will adjust next year's plan based on the pandemic's development. He also noted that a total of 1,508 alternative military servicemen have been selected to visit other countries for diplomatic purposes since the program was introduced in 2001, reported CNA.