Good morning. This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT newsletter. Sign up to our Asia, Europe/Africa or Americas edition to get it sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning
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.
Three more stories in the news
1. Putin imposes oil ban on buyers complying with G7 price cap Russia has hit back at the G7’s attempts to cap gains from the country’s oil revenues, after Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning sales under contracts that comply with the $60 price ceiling imposed by Ukraine’s western allies.
2. Megacap stocks struggle Beijing’s decision to scrap inbound quarantine requirements gave a general boost to shares yesterday, notably in China. But individual stocks, including Tesla and Apple, were hit by concerns over disruptions to their China manufacturing operations amid a soaring number of Covid-19 cases.
More on China’s Covid outbreak: China’s medical staff are being asked to work while sick and retired workers are being recalled to duty, as frontline health professionals bear the brunt of Beijing’s about-face on its tough zero-Covid policy.
3. Lee Myung-bak to be pardoned South Korea’s former president is to be pardoned today, after serving almost four years of a 17-year sentence for corruption, embezzlement and bribery, the country’s justice ministry has said. President Yoon Suk-yeol said the special pardon had been issued in the name of promoting national unity, though many South Koreans remain opposed to the move.
What else we’re reading and listening to
Carmakers cut ties with China in supply chain shake-up European and US carmakers have launched a quiet yet concerted effort to cut their reliance on China’s sprawling network of components makers. “There is a large-scale rethinking of logistics operations [across the industry],” said Ted Cannis, a senior executive at Ford. “The supply chain is going to be the focus of this decade.”
Don’t underestimate the power of climate bullshit As the false claim that net zero policies are to blame for the energy crisis gains traction, Pilita Clark provides a timely reminder that climate bullshit, in all its forms, should never be ignored or underestimated.
🎧 New year, new finances: resolutions for 2023 The new year is a perfect time to rethink and reorganise your financial affairs but where should you start? On this episode of the Money Clinic podcast host Claer Barrett and her guests share advice on how to keep to your new year’s financial goals.
Most popular FT opinion story: It’s time to admit that hybrid isn’t working
As the year reaches its end, we are sharing some of our most-read stories across different sections of the FT. Today we’re featuring our most read opinion story.
Early in 2022, private sector polls showed that a majority of employees wanted to keep working from home, at least part of the time. But what if it isn’t actually that good for us, or those we work for? Camilla Cavendish asked.
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.
Thank you for reading and remember you can add FirstFT to myFT. You can also elect to receive a FirstFT push notification every morning on the app. Send your recommendations and feedback to [email protected]